AT a quarter past seven this Saturday evening, the first puck will drop on Fife Flyers’ debut season in the Elite League.
A bumper crowd is expected at Fife Ice Arena for the opening game against Coventry Blaze, which follows last weekend’s well-attended exhibition games against Dundee Stars.
Saturday’s fixture goes ahead despite the furore surrounding the next home match on September 17 against Nottingham Panthers, who asked the EIHL to re-arrange the game due to their ‘safety concerns’ over the lack of full plexi-glass at the Kirkcaldy rink.
However, work is continuing on fitting more plexi this week and Nottingham have since withdrawn the request, with a club statement released yesterday (Wednesday) reading: “Fife have now said that the set-up will be at least equal to that in Edinburgh and more glass will be fitted later.”
For player-coach Todd Dutiaume, the opening game, followed by the return trip to Coventry on Sunday, promises to be a tough early examination of his team’s EIHL credentials.
“We’re starting against one of the best,” Dutiaume said. “There’s a lot of experience in Coventry – they always bring in quality imports and Paul Thomson is a great coach.
“We were out-played for long spells by Dundee, but they are not a top four team. Coventry are, so we’ve got a long way to go.
“Defensively against Dundee we were quite weak at times, and those mistakes will be amplified and punished this weekend. That’s something the guys have to be very conscious of.
“We’ve got a long road ahead of us, but I’m sure over the next month we’ll get up to an acceptable standard of play.”
Dutiaume travelled to the airport today (Friday) to collect defenceman Matt Cohen and netminder Garret Zemlak who have arrived in time to feature against Blaze, however delays in resolving visa issues for the final import Mike Hamilton, a former Victoria Salmon Kings forward, look set to rule him out of the opening weekend.
Dutiaume added: “We need these guys in to give us a bit more jump.”
Pick up a copy of this week’s Fife Free Press for a four page souvenir Fife Flyers pull-out, including this season’s Elite League fixture list and lots of old pictures