Clan inflict painful defeat on Fife Flyers

Fife Flyers logo large hi-res
Fife Flyers logo large hi-res

All defeats sting, but this one hurt. It cut deeper than any blade of a skate.

Todd Dutiaume, Fife Flyers head coach, took ‘‘full responsibility’’ - but his players also need to stand up and accept their culpability after a painful and pitiful 8-2 capitulation at the hands of rivals Braehead Clan.

Whatever was said post-game was done behind closed doors. It’s safe to say the message was blunt and direct.

Dutiaume was still in his sweats as he picked his way through an open and very raw, emotional reflection with the media - his words were measured, there were pauses between questions and answers as he looked back on a night when a team with its confidence shot to pieces simply sank to its knees in one deeply damaging period.

At 19:54 of the opening period, Flyers killed off a minor penalty to Tommy Muir. With the game at 1-1 and pretty well balanced, all they had to do was kill off six seconds, go into the dressing-room and plan their next move.

Just as they did against Nottingham on Tuesday, they lost a goal bang on the buzzer. As the clock hit 0:00, Matt Haywood back handed the puck home.

Within 38 seconds of the second period starting Flyers were 3-1 down and this game was all but over.

A team that had started brightly simply crumpled.

What followed was just harrowing as an impressive, polished, professional Clan stacked up the goals with an ease that left the near capacity crowd sitting in silence.

With 28 minutes gone it was 6-1, and netminder Kevin Regan had had enough. He left the ice and went straight to the dressing-room, leaving Blair Daly to take over.

His back-up was beaten twice as Fife grabbed on to the only consolation going by holding their rivals to single figures; the team whose feet they held to the fire in a pulsating performance just one month ago.

As the impressive Matt Keith made it 8-1 at 46:02 - his personal stats of 2+3 made him a worthy MoM - the Clan fans chanted ‘‘we want ten.’’

With black humour Fife fans chanted ‘‘we want two’’ - and they got it as defenceman Jamie Milam netted his second of the night in the closing minutes. Without his double, Flyers were staring at an unacceptable shut out on home ice.

There may have been bigger defeats over the years - Murraayfield’s 19-goal trashing, and a spectacular drubbing at the hands of Cardiff spring immediately to mind - but this was, without doubt, one of the poorest performances on home ice for many years.

With influential skipper Kyle Haines and enforcer Matt Nickerson both out, Dutiaume again kitted up to help the bench - but it will almost certainly be the last time he does so.

Picking his words with care, he said: ‘‘The team needs direction and the buck stops with me - I’m putting this firmly on my shoulders.

‘‘We cannot have indecision at any time, and when you are playing then you are not seeing the game, and that can allow things to creep in.

‘‘As a player you’re looking around and trying to make decisions, and maybe not the best ones, so my feet are firmly behind the bench now.’’

Dutiaume also spoke of the determination to turn the team around - and rekindle the spark and winning ways from the first half of the season.

’’I’ve been at the club for 17 years and seen a lot of teams here,’’ he said. ‘‘This team cares, but it’s maybe a little misguided right now.

‘‘We really let ourselves down tonight - we will turn it round, but don’t get me wrong, this has really, really affected me badly.

‘‘We’ve been a really good hockey club over the last 10 months, things have gone smoothly ... did we get complacent with it? Maybe.
‘‘We have slipped a bit but we will sort this out. It’ll be tough but we will turn it around.

Flyers now face a tough Sunday trip to a Edinburgh on play a Capitals side which has bounced back from a 14-game losing streak to post a string a huge wins.

It’s a massive test of character for Dutiaume’s team.

Haines and Nickerson are still out, and more than a few skaters are simply hiding in the shadows right now. Unwilling to lead, they’re looking for excuses or looking to others to take responsibility. The easy way out when things are tough.

If that continues on Sunday then Flyers will end the weekend with zero points and a serious question mark over their play-off hopes.

It’s time to deliver ...