Exhibition match marks the start of new ice hockey era

KIRKCALDY;'Fife Flyers Team captain Jamie Wilson, DANNY STEWART, MATT SIDDALL &  Fife Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume'Photo ; WALTER NEILSON

KIRKCALDY;'Fife Flyers Team captain Jamie Wilson, DANNY STEWART, MATT SIDDALL & Fife Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume'Photo ; WALTER NEILSON

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A NEW era of ice hockey in Kirkcaldy starts this weekend when Fife Flyers’ Elite League team takes to the ice for the first time.

After spending the past six years in the lower leagues, Saturday’s exhibition match against Dundee Stars at Fife Ice Arenea marks the club’s long-awaited return to top flight hockey (face-off 7.15 p.m.).

The club’s first import signings arrived in town this week ahead of the challenge game, with Canadian pair Matt Siddall and Danny Stewart taking part in training.

Aigurs Brencis, a versatile Latvian who can play both defence and forward, has also been brought on board and is in line to make his Fife debut on Saturday.

The club has also completed its British roster by confirming the signings of Blair Daly, Chris Wands, Willie Nicolson, Iain Bowie, Josh Scoon and Marc Fowley.

Hitches

However, Flyers preparations have not been without hitches.

Delays with visa applications have held up the arrival of two unnamed imports, a netminder and a centre-man, while American defenceman Matt Cohen has also been held up after he was evacuated from his New York home due to Hurricanne Irene.

There is also a race against time to complete the installation of plexi-glass in time for Saturday’s match, with just one sheet in place when SportPress visited the rink on Tuesday night.

Despite taking on a full-strength Dundee side with a weakened Flyers team, Dutiaume is looking forward to the double-header, with Saturday’s game in Kirkcaldy followed by a return clash at Dundee Ice Arena on Sunday.

Dutiaume told SportsPress: “Dundee are an improved side from last year, so it will give us a good benchmark. It’s going to give us an idea over which local guys can step up and play at that pace.

“Would we like to have all our imports in – absolutely – but the reality is it hasn’t happened.

“We’ll have four imports, and our full quota of British guys, who all deserve to be given the opportunity to show they can play at this level. There’s no point in finding out in a league game against Coventry next week when the league is in full swing and points are at stake.

“The best time to throw them all in and iron out the kinks is in a challenge match like this.

“It will be a learning curve for the coaching staff as well as we’ll need to identify which areas we need to improve on, as well as the positives that hopefully come out of it.”

For more on the big build-up to the first game, including an exclusive interview with Fife Flyers’ import signing Danny Stewart, pick up a copy of this week’s Fife Free Press.