Injuries no excuse for Flyers says coach

Steven McAlpine
Steven McAlpine
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FIFE Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume has vowed not to let his team’s injuries become an excuse for poor performances.

Last weekend, under-strength Flyers followed a stunning 4-2 home win over Sheffield Steelers with a disappointing 5-2 loss away to Edinburgh Capitals.

Forwards Jason Pitton and Steven Gunn were both missing at Murrayfield but Dutiaume stressed that their absence was not the reason for the defeat.

“I said from the start of the season that I was happy with our squad,” he said.

“Most teams would complain if they had nine imports but we believe we can compete with nine – and that’s a great mentality to have.

“Once we lose Jason and go down to eight that leaves us three short on other teams and it becomes a bigger ask.

“But on Saturday we knocked off a Sheffield team with a full compliment of imports and an NHL guy - so we can’t use it as an excuse.

“We were in Sheffield’s faces and worked our socks off for 60 minutes, but come Sunday the guys had started to believe their own hype.

“There was a noticeable difference in the intensity of the skating, and when you do that in this league you’ll quickly get knocked back to earth.”

Dutiaume remains hopeful that he will be given the green light to pursue a 10th import signing, but for now, the Flyers coach has to make do with the resources at his disposal.

“Another import will give me more options but we beat a team who will competing for the league title with eight,” he said.

“That shows we should be good enough to do the business with the squad we’ve got.”

A shoulder injury has ruled Gunn out of this weekend’s matches – back-to-back away games at Braehead Clan and Dundee Stars.

However, Jason Pitton will be given until Friday to prove his fitness as he battles back from a rib injury.

Dutiaume is considering calling up local youngsters Jordan Crowe and Liam Cassidy, who have been training with the team, to fill the empty slots on the bench.

He explained: “There’s a long way to go before these kids are ready to get game time or regular shifts, but giving them the experience of stepping up goes a long way towards their development.”

Saturday’s trip to Braehead Ice Arena (7.00 p.m) will see Flyers come up against their second NHL player in a week with Drew Miller of the Detriot Red Wings currently on the Clan’s roster.

“It’s a big two points for us in both the league and challenge cup, but we know we’re coming up against a free-wheeling offensive team,” Dutiaume said.

“They’ll be a totally different outfit from the one we beat here earlier in the season.”

Flyers then travel to Dundee Ice Arena on Sunday for a Challenge Cup match with a 6.30 p.m face-off.

“Dundee are heating up,” Dutiaume said. “They seem to have an improved squad, and they’ll be looking to stamp their authority over us.

“They are arguably our closest rivals because of the leagues we played in together in recent years.

“Thre’s a lot of pride at stake in the game, as well as the points.”