Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume has told his players to be ready to go to war this weekend when they face bitter rivals Braehead Clan in Kirkcaldy.
Flyers are out for revenge after they were not only defeated, but also outfought by a physical Clan side the last time the sides met in a double-header in October.
Those matches featured several flashpoints and resulted in Dutiaume hitting out at the Elite League’s Department of Player Safety for failing to punish dangerous plays.
But on the eve of the powderkeg clash, Dutiaume has told his players that they must be prepared to play tough, and take on Clan at their own game.
“If we have any aspirations in this league, this is one of the teams we’ve got to get through,” he told the Press. “We have to find a way to show up and beat this team on Saturday.
“I can yelp about player safety, or about not getting the calls, but at the end of the day we have to go out and do it on the ice.
“Everybody has to step up and be accountable. It’s a rough and tumble game, we’ve all gone through it and sometimes you have to put your big boy pants on and go to war against a team that is clearly dedicated to going to war against you.
“It doesn’t necessarily mean going toe-to-toe centre ice. It means playing tough as a team and not being scared to throw body contact.
“But if some guys have to get in a fight, then get in a fight. It’s hockey - it’s within the rules.”
Dutiaume could be without Ric Jackman this weekend after the defenceman suffered a back injury following a hit from Coventry Blaze’s Garrett Klotz on Saturday.
Flyers decided against requesting a review from DOPS, but the club has sent in the clip of Ross Venus’ hit on Phil Paquet, which left the D-man with broken teeth and stitches.
“Phil was clearly injured in the play and he definitely had his bell rung because there was direct contact on the head,” Dutiaume said. “It’s an instant review from our perspective.
“Phil was questionable before the Storm game - he took warm-up gave us the thumbs up.
“Our medical team weren’t particularly pleased about it but it was a big game and Phil’s a big part of this team.
“We’ll ease him into this week and hopefully he’s got some rest and had a chance to heal his face up.”
On the Jackman incident, Dutiaume added: “It was a clean enough hit.
“It was probably just the positioning with no glass there. The corner of the boards did the damage, not any maliciousness in the hit.
“The guy finished the hit on him, it was from the front, and it was a split-second after he released the puck. We expect our guys to finish their hits.
“Klotz is a big guy and it’s not going to feel great if you get hit by him. He just managed to get around our winger and catch Ric unawares.
“I don’t think Ric saw him and that’s probably what caused the most damage.”
Flyers are on a four-game winning streak at home but have lost their last two away games without scoring a goal.
“It’s something we’ll be addressing with the team,” Dutiaume added.
“Our home form and our away form are polar opposites right now.
“It’s the same game, played in a rink, and the same systems.
“It’s up to us to make sure we’re ready to perform at the level we perform at home, and have the wherewithal to bring that on the road. Right now, we’re just not getting that.”
Flyers travel to Nottingham Panthers on Sunday - a side who spent last weekend playing in the Continental Cup.
“We’re more than capable of going into a building like that and putting on a performance - and it would be about time,” Dutiaume said.
“As a group our intensity on the road has to increase, starting this weekend.”