Some of the diehards were at Thursday's practice. Besides the coach, most of the faces on the ice were new. But the faces outside the rink, rooting on the men in Sea Wolves practice sweaters, were the same. One of the cheerleaders was Sandy McGuire.
"We've had Sea Wolves withdrawal for the last two years," McGuire admitted.
The McGuires have season tickets in section 24, row 12, seats two and three. But during practices, they watch from the glass As opening night approached, Bob McGuire said, "It's exciting to say the least."
A coach's whistle nearly drowned out his comment. That whistle brought a smile to Frank Kittle's face.
"I've had so many people call me, when's hockey coming back? When's hockey coming back?" he said.
Kittle can proudly tell them Saturday night. His pride comes from knowing his Coliseum mates have worked as hard as the Sea Wolves to make the return of hockey as smooth as the ice, after he zambonis it.
"It means a whole lot," Kittle said. "I mean it's great for the community to have hockey come back."
The Sea Wolves decade in the den celebration was supposed to be in 2005. But as we all know, Katrina put those plans on hold. The delay meant the team's new radio voice could participate in the 10th anniversary excitement.
"It's really pretty special to meet these folks who have stuck by the team and kept hockey here through the two years of absence," said play-by-play voice Leif Skodnick. "Just to be down here and be part of the rebuilding effort with a team that has so much tradition both in the ECHL and here in Biloxi and Gulfport, it really means a lot to me."
The Sea Wolves have several surprises in store for Saturday's home opener, including the return of a few fan favorites.
Who? Unfortunately, they're keeping those surprises a secret Decade in the Den ceremonies begin Saturday night at seven o'clock. Face off against the Reading Royals is at 7:20. Brad Arnold, front man for the south Mississippi band 3 Doors Down, will sing the National Anthem for the home opener.
The following night, Mississippi hosts the Pensacola Ice Pilots. That game begins at 5:05.