Flyers’ early start

Tommy Muir. Pic: Steve Gunn
Tommy Muir. Pic: Steve Gunn
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Fife Flyers are looking to hit the ice with pre-season friendlies at the end of next month.

The club has pencilled in the weekend of August 30/31 for some competitive action ahead of the 2014-15 EIHL season which starts on Saturday, September 6 at home to Coventry Blaze.

And they are hoping to attract a touring team to Fife Ice Arena.

The warm-up action is seen as vital by the coaching staff as they prepare to bring new faces to the dressing-room and get off to the best possible start - and the prospect of a club from outwith the EIHL would give the fans someone new to see.

Todd Dutiaume, head coach, is keen to tie up the games as key component of his pre-season preparations.

He said: ‘‘We are looking at bringing a touring team here.

‘‘That’d be great for the fans, and a fantastic opportunity for us as a team.

‘‘We’ve seen the benefits of having some pre-season action under our belts.

‘‘As well as the games we get more ice time with the guys, and that gives us the best chance to then jump into the league season.

The preparations for the 2014-15 season continued this week with the announcement of defencman Tommy Muir’s return.

The 28-year old blue liner has been an ever present since breaking through in season 2001-02, and Dutiaume hailed his performances last season as they best since the club moved into the EIHL.

He said: ‘‘Tommy has steadily developed over the past three seasons but last year he really came into his own.

‘‘We relied on his steady defensive performances he produced night in and night out and fully deserved his season ending award of British player of the year. I expect the same from Tommy during the forthcoming campaign.” 

His sentiments were echoed by coaching partner, Danny Stewart who hailed Muir as ‘‘a huge part’’ of the team’s stunning march to the championship play-off finals.

He added: ‘‘Tommy was a huge part of our success down the stretch and really found his game at this level. He became a guy we could rely on night in night out and when he competes the way he does and plays smart defensively, he improves our defence and gives us another reliable guy back there.”

Dutiaume expects to unveil some new faces in the coming weeks too, while plans to bring back key enforcer and fans’ favourite Matt Nickerson are progressing very positively behind the scenes.

It’s no secret the big man enjoyed his time in Kirkcaldy - he was given a warm welcome and loved staying in the town and being part of the organisation.

With the ice expected to go back down mid-August, the coaching team are looking to lace up in just a few weeks.

‘‘We will get the local guys on ice, and that will give them a couple of weeks of hard skating, and we’d like everyone in at the start of the week ahead of the exhibition games.

‘‘By all accounts everyone has looked after themselves during the summer and everyone is very keen to get back together.

‘‘In some ways the summer has just flown past - it feels like we just left the rink a few weeks back - but everything has gone very smoothly and much of that is on the back of the success we had last season.

‘‘Getting to Nottingham and the finals weekend definitely got us on the radar of more players and agents, but we were also able to show that we were retaining our core from last season, so we only had a few exclusive slots open for possible signings.

‘‘So far it’s all gone very smoothly and we’re pleased with the calibre of guys we are talking to. We should be announcing some new faces in the next few weeks.

‘‘I know the pressure will be on from day one to see this team peform. Everyone will expect us to pick up where we left off, but we’re all excited and looking forward to the new season.’’

The prospect of reuniting with last season’s team also caught the imagination of Muir, the latest home based player to be announced as a returnee.

For Muir, the countdown to swapping the gym for ice time can’t come soon enough.

Muir said: ‘The run we had at the end of the season was amazing, and is definitely one of the highlights of my career.”

“It has been a long summer and I am keen to get back on the ice and get the season underway.

‘‘There was a real buzz in the room and on the ice at the end of the season, as well as in the crowd, it would be great to start the 2014/15 campaign in the same way.”