Flyers coach relaxed over play-off permutations

Todd Dutiaume, head coach Fife Flyers.  Stephen Gunn Photography Copyright.
Todd Dutiaume, head coach Fife Flyers. Stephen Gunn Photography Copyright.
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Fife Flyers head into the final weekend of the regulation ice hockey season still uncertain over who their play-off quarter-final opponents will be.

Any one of three clubs could stand between Todd Dutiaume’s side and a return to the Nottingham finals weekend for the third time in four years.

Flyers finish the league campaign with a home and away double header against Dundee Stars, but the results will have no bearing on who the Kirkcaldy team face next - that will be entirely determined elsewhere.

The most likely opponents as it stands are Belfast Giants, who would need to win back-to-back games away to Cardiff Devils this weekend to overhaul the league champions in the Erhardt Conference and move up into second seeds.

Such a scenario would result in Flyers facing a repeat of last year’s dramatic play-off quarter final against Gardiner Conference champions Braehead Clan, who they beat for the first time in nine attempts on Saturday.

However, should Belfast lose both games in Cardiff, and Sheffield Steelers win their two remaining games, then the South Yorkshire side would finish as Elite League runners-up to set up a play-off quarter-final against Fife.

Head coach Dutiaume is remaining relaxed over the permutations and insists that his team will be ready for whoever they come up against.

He said: “We could end up with Belfast, Sheffield or Braehead but every year we’ve gone into play-offs we’ve played our own game and tried to make a team adjust to us. We’re capable of doing that.

“We have our scouting reports on all the teams, but at this point, if we stick to our game plan and we have that high level of competitiveness for the entire game, then we’ve shown we can beat all the teams that we’ll be coming up against.

“We know the job at hand, and what we’re capable of. It’s just strictly having all our guns firing at the right time.

“If we bring that in the play-offs, we’ll certainly be competitive and we’ll be a hard team to beat.”

Flyers have won three of their last four, but with little more than pride at stake this weekend, Dutiaume has warned his players against easing off as momentum could be key ahead of the play-offs.

“You want to go into play-offs playing good hockey,” he said.

“To limp out of the season isn’t great, although on the flipside, last year we went 0 and 4 before the Braehead series and went out and played our best 120 minutes of hockey for years.

“It’s more the mental side, going into this weekend and beyond. You definitely don’t want to be pulling your deck chairs out and trying to turn it back up next week.

“Are the results as important? Probably not, although I want to finish 55 points.

“That would equal our points total from last season in a better league.

“There’s also an outside chance of finishing fifth in the standings so there is motivation to play this weekend other than just tuning up.”

Flyers host Dundee on Saturday before travelling across the Tay on Sunday.