FIFE Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume admits his team could be given an ice hockey lesson this weekend ... and he couldn’t be happier.
Flyers are preparing to take on Peterborough Phantoms in an Anglo-Scottish Challenge that will see the English Premier League side travel to Kirkcaldy on Saturday night, before a return match in Cambridgeshire the following evening.
Peterborough boast four quality imports, including a former NHL star, while several of their Brit-pack have represented Great Britain at various levels. They also compete in the highly competitive EPL alongside the likes of Manchester Phoenix, Guildford Flames and Basingstoke Bison.
Dutiaume knows his team are up against it, but is relishing the step up in standard from the mundane Northern League where Flyers often win at a canter.
“We’re really going to get our eyes opened this weekend,” he told SportsPress:
“We’d love to take Peterborough’s scalp, but if I’m being honest, that will be a tall order.
“They’re going to come in with four imports, not only that they play two games every weekend, and probably train three times a week as well.
“It’s hard enough for me to keep these guys going when we’ve got a busy schedule because of the number of weaker teams we come up against, but we’ve hardly played in the last three weeks.
“The last couple of teams we’ve played have certainly felt our wrath because I’ve told my guys we have to get ready for Peterborough.
“If we take our foot off the gas for 10 seconds against these guys then they’ll score a goal – there’s no doubting that.
“We’re used to being able to switch off and on, so I’m trying to train these guys to go for 60 minutes, and not be out there for two-minute shifts at a time. We want 30 second bursts of them giving their all. Hopefully they’ll be prepared for that this weekend.”
Despite admitting Peterborough are a superior side at present, Dutiaume urged his players not to be phased by the challenge.
“We know we’re up against it, but that will be good,” he said. “It’s a feeling we’ve not had very often over the last couple of years.
“In our previous challenge games against Sheffield Steeldogs and Corcordia University we were shell-shocked right off the bat.
“I don’t want our guys to realise two periods into the game that if they skate with these guys and go hard we could compete.
“I want us to be ready for them and I’m trying to get them prepared for that. It will help having a full squad. Guys have been injured a bit this season but with the exception of Chad Reekie and Liam Greig, we’ll have everyone available to us. We’ll go with four strong lines and five D-men and see what we can do against Peterborough.”
After a disappointing crowd for the 13-3 win over Blackburn at the weekend, Dutiaume hopes Fife ice hockey fans turn out in greater numbers this Saturday.
“The crowd numbers were down again on Saturday and you could make excuses about the X-factor final, but the fans just want to see good competitive games and they’ve been few and far between,” he said.
“Hopefully they’ll realise that this weekend they’ll see good hockey and choose to come down.”
Flyers assistant coach Steven Lynch echoed those sentiments.
“It’s going to be a big test and we’re all looking forward to it,” he said. “We’re crying out for games like this against good quality opposition and let’s face it – it’s been a while.
“We want to be in tough situations and have a hard bump and grind game of hockey rather than what we’re seeing here week in, week out. We’re under no illusions, they are going to be a well-drilled outfit, but the guys looking forward to it.
“The Scottish game takes a lot of stick down in England, and people say the standard isn’t there any more. This game is a chance to show what we can do against higher opposition.
“We want to give as good an account of ourselves as we can.”