Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume has praised the impact made by recent signing Nico Sacchetti after he shot to the top of the Elite League scoring charts over the weekend.
The 26-year-old forward from Minnesota, USA, has picked up his old Dundee Stars form by delivering big numbers for Flyers since joining and making his debut on Boxing Day.
Sacchetti has scored seven goals and 16 assists in 16 appearances for the Kirkcaldy side thus far to become the leading points per game forward in the EIHL with a rate of 1.44.
His impact was evident in the weekend win over Belfast Giants when he had a major hand in a 4-3 win with statistics of 3+1 - becoming the first Flyer to score a hat-trick this season.
“Nico has made a huge difference,” Dutiaume told the Press.
“Not only for his individual and natural capabilities on the ice - which we knew he had before he came in - but also for the dynamic that has been created in the team as a result of his signing.
“Lines seem a lot more balanced and we’re looking a lot more dangerous offensively.
“Having that offence takes the pressure off our back end.
“We are delighted with Nico’s output and overall contribution all over the ice.”
Flyers emerged with two wins from three matches over the weekend, but Dutiaume felt the performances deserved a clean sweep of points.
“It was a very successful weekend for us,” he said.
“The way we played it could really have been three wins from three barring that late penalty in Braehead.
“We played 180 solid minutes.”
The weekend results have strengthened Flyers’ position in the race for the play-offs - they sit seventh in the overall EIHL standings, 10 points clear of ninth placed Manchester Storm.
However, with Sunday’s victory over Braehead Clan cancelling out Friday’s defeat, Flyers rather insecure position at the top of the Gardiner Conference remains unchanged, with Clan and Stars both close behind, but with several games in hand.
“All we can do is take care of our business,” Dutiaume said.
“We’re well aware of the games in hand but while we can’t do anything about Dundee’s, we still have to play Braehead twice and that’s a huge eight point swing.
“If we can take maximum 10 points from our five remaining conference matches we’ve done all we can.
“If it’s not enough we’ll look back and rue games that slipped away.”
Dutiaume is also targeting sixth place in the EIHL after closing the gap on Dundee to three points.
“We have a better winning record than them, but Dundee have found a way to get themselves to overtime and get that point every weekend,” he added.
“We’re knocking on their doorstep now and if we win our game in hand we are only one point behind them.
“It would be nice to finish ahead of Dundee and move up another place but the way to do that is by winning our games one at a time.”
Flyers host Edinburgh Capitals on Saturday night - a side who lost another player this week with Paul Zanette moving to Italian club Asagio on loan.
Despite the club’s troubles, they ran EIHL leaders Cardiff Devils close with a narrow 2-1 defeat in Wales on Sunday.
“They are still a team that’s very capable,” Dutiaume said. “We cannot look past Saturday’s game.”
Flyers travel to Braehead Ice Arena on Sunday looking to make amends for last Friday’s 3-1 loss.
Jeff Lee is back in light skating with the team and is expected to be ready for selection next weekend.