Fife Flyers season rests on making the end of season play-offs - because it’s all they’ve got left to play for.
Flyers were knocked out the Challenge Cup quarter-finals on Tuesday night, going down 3-2 at home to Cardiff to lose 10-5 on aggregate.
The Kirkcaldy side are also 15 points behind leaders Dundee Stars and firmly out of the running to win the Gardiner Conference.
The only realistic goal left for the Kirkcaldy club is to secure a place in the Elite League’s top eight - a destiny that is still in their own hands.
And player-coach Todd Dutiaume hopes the improved performances in the weekend games against Dundee Stars are a sign of things to come.
“Our goal is still to make the play-offs,” he said. “Over the weekend we played very well home and away against a legitimate second placed hockey club.
“We saw encouraging signs, but as I said to the players, we can’t be satisfied with one good weekend.
“It has to be followed up for the rest of the season or we’ll languish down here and that play-off spot will slip away.
“It’s something the coaching staff are keen to avoid and something we didn’t foresee at the start of the season.
“A lot of it has got to come down on the players’ shoulders as well. You can see what happens when they put in the work ethic and have that desire to win.”
The bottom three clubs are currently seperated by just three points with Flyers sandwiched between Cardiff in eighth, and Edinburgh in last place.
The gap to seventh-placed Coventry is seven points and Dutiaume reckons its shaping up to be a three-horse race for the last play-off spot.
“The next few games are absolutely crucial,” he explained. “We could either find ourselves leading this pack of three, or at the bottom. We have to make sure the players realise this and come out and give their best for 120 minutes.”
Flyers start the weekend with a Friday night trip to Glasgow to face Braehead before welcoming Edinburgh to Fife Ice Arena on Saturday.
“You see what happened to Hull - a four point weekend shot them right up the charts,” Dutiaume added.
“A good weekend here or there really helps a team out and that’s something this team needs right now.”
If Flyers are unable to find some consistency over the next few weeks then changes could be made to the team before the transfer deadline.
Dutiaume added: “If there’s somebody out there who we think will improve the team, we won’t hesitate to make a move.
“We’re not going to stand by idly and watch this play-off spot dwindle away. But the right player has to come up.”
Flyers are expecting to have Kevin Regan back for the weekend after the netminder returned home due to a family bereavement.