Flyers coach expects to continue form revival

Brendan Brooks scores against Manchester Storm last Sunday. Pic: Steve Gunn
Brendan Brooks scores against Manchester Storm last Sunday. Pic: Steve Gunn

Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume is expecting his side to continue their recent form revival now that he is approaching a full strength line-up.

Flyers have won five of their last six matches in the Gardiner Conference and iced eight import forwards for the first time in over a month as they claimed a four point weekend against Manchester Storm.

The recent upturn, which followed seven consecutive conference defeats, has restored some much needed confidence and morale to a side that endured an injury-hit December.

Dutiaume said: “Any time you can say you win five of six games, it’s going to lead to a lot more happier camp, guys enjoying themselves, and relieving the pressure a bit.

“Last weekend against Manchester, we got Bryan Cameron in, as well as Sebastian Thinel back from injury, and both were instrumental on the Saturday night victory, and played well all weekend.

“Having that depth back in the line up has made a huge difference. Guys aren’t having to cut corners and cheat, and we’re able to stick to a more solid game plan. So far it’s paying off.”

With Chase Schaber expected to make a comeback this weekend and Ric Jackman also pushing for a return from a recurring injury, Dutiaume could soon be forced to sit an import on the sidelines.

“I would absolutely love - for the first time ever in the Elite League - to be able to make a decision on our final line-up by having extra players,” he said.

“I don’t think that will be the case this weekend - it may be - but it would be something that adds positive pressure to the line-up.

“It allows us to rest guys carrying niggles, and guys have to compete for a spot, which is a way to get the best out of them.”

Flyers recent turnaround in form has created a nine point buffer to ninth-placed Dundee Stars in the overall EIHL standings ahead of the visit of the Taysiders on Saturday.

On Sunday, Flyers make the short trip across the Forth to face Edinburgh Capitals and another four point weekend is the target.

“From Nottingham in fourth down to Coventry in eighth - it’s a very tight grouping,” Dutes said.

“Barring the top three, everybody’s had their tough period throughout the season and how you respond to that will ultimately determine your final position in this league.

“Sitting in sixth place right now one point behind Braehead with three games in hand is a pretty good place to be, but a lot depends on continuing this run of form, staying healthy and starting to hunt down teams ahead of us.

“In conference, we find ourselves sitting in second place, nine points adrift of that top spot, and the reason is because we haven’t taken any points off Braehead this year - something that we did six times last year, which ultimately led us to be tied with them in conference.

“We have them three more times, and with a healthy line-up and more confident positive attitude, if those games fall our way that closes the gap significantly.

“However, that’s looking a little far ahead. We’d be remiss to look past these games this weekend.

“Both Dundee and Edinburgh have their backs up against the wall right now. I’ve been in that position before - I know what it’s like - and teams are fighting for their season. That makes them a dangerous opponent.

“They are not going to roll over at this point. It’s important for us to address this weekend one game at a time and recognise how important it is to keep this form going.”