Back-up role suits Daly as he signs on for a decade of service

Blair Daly in action for Fife Flyers - season 2013-14. Pic: Steve Gunn
Blair Daly in action for Fife Flyers - season 2013-14. Pic: Steve Gunn

Blair Daly was so surprised to learn that he is coming up for 10 years at Fife Flyers that he had to look up his career stats on the internet.

“It doesn’t seem like that long - I had to look back on Elite Prospects to check,” explained the 26-year-old netminder.

As it turns out, Daly will complete a decade of service at Fife next season after becoming the first player outwith the coaching staff to be confirmed on the roster for season 2014-15.

“I had a talk with Todd (Dutiaume) and Tom (Muir) a couple of weeks after the play-offs and was asked how I thought last season went and what my thoughts were going forward,” he said.

“I was quite happy with how things went last year, although the limited ice time made it hard to jump straight into games.”

Not that Daly is complaining. His situation as Flyers’ back-up goalie is one that suits both him, and the club.

“I work for Lloyds Bank in Edinburgh and that limits when I can train and how many hours I can put into it,” he explained.

“I’ve been asked to go down to the EPL for the last few years but it would mean quitting my job, and I’m not prepared to do that.

“I’m 26 now - it’s not as if I’ve got my whole playing career in front of me.

“Because of my work I’m happy just being in and around the team, helping out whenever I can. I was delighted when I was asked to re-sign.”

Daly joined Fife in 2005, moving from Edinburgh Capitals at the age of just 16, and spent the next six years as the club’s first choice goalie in the SNL, before taking on the role of back-up when the club moved into the EIHL in 2011.

“To be honest, after the first year in the Elite I came close to hanging them up,” he revealed.

“A lot of guys left the team, and we really struggled to be competitive.

“But the last two seasons have made me really enjoy my hockey again.

“I also managed to get through last season without any groin problems.

“For the last three or four years it’s been a problem, but last year it wasn’t too bad, and I think it helped my performances.”

Daly’s displays, and his commitment to the club, have earned him the status as a firm fans favourite, so much so that the roof comes off Fife Ice Arena whenever he is called upon.

“I appreciate the fans support 100 per cent - it helps me get into my game,” he explained.

“I think that’s why, whenever I’ve had to go into a game at Fife, I’ve always performed pretty well. A big part of that is the fans.

“I don’t think everyone realises just how good a club Fife is to play for.

“Every player you speak to, whether an import or Brit, says it’s one of the best clubs they’ve been at.

“Opposition players always hate coming to our venue, but I love playing there. The fans are brilliant ... when we’re winning!”

Daly featured in 11 games last season although his most memorable was a penalty shots win over Dundee Stars in Kirkcaldy on January 11 when he won man of the match.

“Fife have stuck by me because they know I can win them games,” he said. “I think I proved that last year in the Dundee penalty shots game.

“I’d like to improve my save percentage overall - but being a back-up goalie in any league is tough.”

Daly is looking forward to returning to the ice in September, and he believes Flyers can hit the ground running.

“We’re hoping we can better last season,” he said.

“The main goal is to win the conference and make the play-offs - and it we can get to the finals weekend again that would be a great achievement.

“It would be great if we could win it, and I don’t see why not if we keep most of our guys from last year.

“If we can keep that streak we finished the season with going into next season it would be massive.

“When the team wasn’t performing at the start it was frustrating because we knew we had the players and the skill. A losing streak becomes hard to get out of and you have guys falling out with each other.

“It wasn’t until we were told to go out and enjoy the hockey because there was nothing left to lose that guys started to loosen up and gel together.

“It all came together in February and it was just great to be a part of our run to the play-off finals weekend.”