Flyers won’t rule out more changes

Todd Dutiaume coaches from the bench during Fife Flyers defeat to Edinburgh Capitals on Saturday. Pic: Steve Gunn

Todd Dutiaume coaches from the bench during Fife Flyers defeat to Edinburgh Capitals on Saturday. Pic: Steve Gunn

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Fife Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume has not ruled out making further changes to his roster ahead of the transfer deadline.

Ice hockey clubs in the UK can sign players up until January 31 and with Flyers currently bottom of the Elite League, Dutiaume admitted that he may look to tweak things before the window closes.

“It’s getting awful close to that deadline, so if it’s the case that we want to make any more changes, we might have to do it soon,” he said.

“But you have to be very careful. You can start chasing your tail around and you can make bad decisions, and that can put you in an even worse situation.

“However these things always have to be considered.”

Flyers travelled to Cardiff on Wednesday for their Challenge Cup quarter-final first leg tie, which they lost 7-3 to leave themselves with a mountain to climb in the second leg at Fife Ice Arena on Tuesday.

It extended Flyers current losing streak to six games - a run that has almost certainly put the club out of contention to win the Gardiner Conference.

However, with just eight points seperating the bottom five teams in the Elite League, Dutiaume is adamant Flyers can still turn the season into a success.

“Our first and foremost thought is to lock onto a play-off spot,” he said. “We don’t want to be on the outside looking in.

“But are we just trying to scrape into a play-off position? Absolutely not. Edinburgh, ourselves, Cardiff, Coventry and Hull are all in a group and everyone has had their slide.

“We’ve double-dipped here, and we’re not happy about it, but a lot of things are going on behind the scenes to rectify that.

“It’s a long rest of season and you could find yourself out of the play-offs and just honouring your fixtures - that’s not the position we want to be in.

“That could happen if guys don’t come out and perform, but they have the opportunity, if they get tight as a group, and come with a work ethic for 60 minutes, to really climb the standings.

“At this point, it’s vital we start climbing in an upwards direction.”

Dutiaume is looking forward to welcoming back Matt Nickerson from suspension for this weekend’s double-header against Dundee Stars, which starts with a live televised Premier Sports match at Fife Ice Arena on Saturday (7.00 p.m).

“Our record is substantially better with Matt in the line up than without,” Dutiaume said.

“He had a big impact in the game. He’s paid his dues, his suspension is over, and he’s excited and keen to get back playing hockey.

“That’s why he came back to the sport in the first place. He knows his reputation precedes him but hopefully the powers that be and the hockey community look past the image and see that he’s a nice man and a great team mate on and off ice.

“He helps us win hockey games when he stays on the ice so that’s a big bonus coming into Saturday because we’ve been a bit thin at the back and costly errors have been hurting us.”

Flyers are likely to be without netminder Kevin Regan this weekend due to a family bereavement.

Dutiaume has not ruled out making a return to the ice himself this season as he continues his recovery from a broken knee-cap.

He has not played since picking up the injury in a match against Braehead Clan last March, and he only recently underwent surgery to remove metal pins in his knee.

However, the 40 year-old head coach is currently undergoing rehabilition and could yet feature on the ice before the season is over.

“It’s been a very frustrating time for me on bench,” he said.

“I’m 40 years-old so I don’t know much impact I would have out there, but it’s the hardest part for me right now, seeing the trouble the guys are going through without being able to do anything about it.

“It all depends on this leg. I’ve made good progress over the last week and half, but it’s still weak.

“It’s tough for me to answer whether I’ll play this season, but if the leg gets up to speed and I feel I can make a difference out there, then I may dust off the equipment.

“That’s a way off still. The leg is not ready, and I have to meet the surgeon next week and get an idea what he has to say.”