Flyers look to build on good start

Todd Dutiaume addresses his players on the bench at Braehead. Pic: Steve Gunn
Todd Dutiaume addresses his players on the bench at Braehead. Pic: Steve Gunn

Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume has challenged his players to build on their encouraging start to the new season.

A 5-2 home win over Belfast Giants was followed with a 4-3 overtime victory away to Braehaed Clan on Sunday to claim four points in the Challenge Cup.

The second weekend of the campaign takes Flyers across the Irish Sea on Saturday for a return match against Belfast in the Challenge Cup.

Then it’s back to Kirkcaldy on Sunday for the big Elite League home opener against old rivals Nottingham Panthers at Fife Ice Arena.

“The weekend was a great confidence boost for the guys,” Dutiaume said.

“They were fired up for the home opener as you would expect and this is a hard place to play when we’re on top of our game.

“We had some tired bodies on Sunday but the guys battled hard and found a way to grind out a win in a game where it felt like we were killing an awful lot of penalties.

“It appears from initial reaction that we have a good mix this season.

“We’ve got a good atmosphere in the dressing room, confidence right off the bat, and guys who feel they have things to prove to themselves, and others, but we have to stay grounded and improve on our performances every weekend.”

Dutiaume has stressed the importance of a good start to the season.

“We don’t want to eke into the season, be slow starters and pick it up in the second half,” he said. “We may have off nights but these guys have shown they can win tired, and not at our best, and that bodes well for the team.

“But the coaching staff will be relaying to the players this week that we need to be better and we’ll be working on a number of things.”

The two victories have ensured a positive reaction from Flyers fans to the new-look line-up, and Dutiaume is hopeful of their backing throughout the ups and downs of the campaign.

“This is a club that the people have so far responded to,” he said. “We can be fickle at times - after a couple of wins everything is rosy - but this season is going to be a grind and my message to the fans is that this team is going to work their butts off every night, and play with that desperation.

“It may not go perfect every night but we need them behind us because it’s a huge advantage. If we stand together as one, it’s a very formidable place to come to.”

Phil Paquet will again miss out this weekend through injury but is targeting a possible return the following weekend.

Visa delays mean Kyle Follmer’s arrival date is still uncertain, a situation Dutiaume described as “frustrating”, but he had praise for James Isaacs, who was drafted in as cover at short notice last weekend.

Isaacs is due to return to North America at the end of the month, but Dutiaume added: “James did an unbelievable job for us at the weekend and is liked and respected by his team mates.

“He has job lined up in North America, so he’s with us short term as it stands, but you never know.”