Flyers gunning for six points in three-game weekend

Fife Flyers players celebrate a goal in the 5-1 win over Braehead last Sunday. Pic: Fife Flyers
Fife Flyers players celebrate a goal in the 5-1 win over Braehead last Sunday. Pic: Fife Flyers

Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume believes that six points is a realistic target as his team prepares for its first three-game weekend of the season.

Flyers start the gruelling schedule at home to Milton Keynes Lightning tonight, then travel to Manchester Storm on Saturday before welcoming Braehead Clan to Kirkcaldy for a second consecutive Sunday.

Dutiaume’s men have made a promising start to the EIHL campaign with qualification for the Challenge Cup quarter-finals secured and three wins out of four in the league.

And despite the demands that will be placed on his squad this weekend, the 44-year-old head coach sees no reason why they cannot claim maximum points.

“I don’t see why it’s not possible,” Dutiaume said.

“A number of teams will have three games in three nights over the course of the season, and you certainly don’t want to go into the games feeling that one is not as important as the other.

“We may move things around a bit and change things, but this is a week of prep for getting the guys mentally ready to play 180 minutes.

“We probably won’t train as long this week, just on skill specific stuff and making sure we get our legs moving.

“But with six league points at stake, and two in conference, the message this week is to take it one game at a time, and we’re going for six points.”

Flyers will certainly feel confident after following up their recent 7-1 win in Braehead with another convincing 5-1 victory over their west coast rivals in front of the biggest home crowd of the season so far on Sunday.

“We’ve put a lot of emphasis on this series this year because we’re very well aware that any success has to go through Braehead,” Dutiaume said.

“Two seasons ago we had their number, and last season that flipped on its head.

“This year we’ve drawn early blood, but we know how long a hockey season is and how things can change so we have to make sure we don’t take anything for granted.

“In both Braehaed games I thought we were near enough at our best, and that’s what it’s going to take to continue to be successful against them.”

A notable feature of Fife’s victories so far this season has been the team’s work ethic, which Dutiaume believes is earning the respect of the fans.

“I’ve spoken extensively about the connection between fan and player and how it’s vital for a team to have success,” he said. “You can have a great team but if don’t have the backing if your supporters then it makes it much harder.

“We worked really hard to build a team that this community is going to respond to and I feel, as long as that’s the effort they see on nightly basis, the fans will be able to absorb the harder times as well as the big victories.

“If the players feel a connection, and not a discord, they want to play and they want to generate that excitement around town.

“Right now, they are definitely enjoying winning, but it’s so much more enjoyable when you’re not counting on a bounce or luck, and you’re going out and earning it.

“They know their hard work is paying off.”

Dutiaume also gave an insight into the decision to keep defenceman James Isaacs in a forward role despite the team returning to full strength.

“Hutch and I argue about him every day,” Dutes said. “He would like a little bit of help at the back, I insist that I bring him up front, but we both know that he’s a key player for us.

“He’ll go back for penalty kills, and if a defenceman is in the box we have the luxury of putting him back.

“I love the way our three forward lines are rolling right now, so I don’t feel we’re in a position to make a change.

“Tommy and Wando are doing a good job at the back. It’s good to see us playing six D and nine forwards.”