Fife Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume was left frustrated by the weekend defeat to Belfast Giants – because he now expects to beat the top teams.
Dutiaume admitted that he was ‘appalled’ by the first and second period efforts against Giants on Saturday as his side crashed to a 4-2 defeat.
He was, however, more encouraged by the third period showing, as Fife came close to mounting a comeback from 3-0 down.
That’s the effort he wants to see across all six periods this weekend.
“I was critical of them after the first and second period, but we played a good third period and had chances to tie that game up,” he said.
“We looked more dynamic and that’s how I would expect us to play all the time.
“It’s frustrating from my part because we’ve just played three of the best teams in the country and beat Sheffield in overtime, and held Cardiff and Belfast to one-goal empty net games.
“Now I’m in a position where I can be angry, rather than just being thrilled to be competing with these teams.
“We’re expecting to win these games and that’s a different position for us.
“I felt that with a one-game weekend we would’ve been more up for it, and more challenging, but it took us a while to get to the races.”
Flyers’ four losses in the league thus far have all been by a single goal, or empty net goal – all winnable games.
“Belfast, Cardiff, Manchester, Guildford – all could’ve been a win,” Dutiaume said.
“We’re good enough to win every night, but if you look at results around the league, no team wins every night.
“Winning teams give themselves a chance, and we’ve certainly done that, but there are games we can look back on, and want back, as will other teams.
“Where the team has progressed is in shot counts. In the past we’d maybe give up 50 shots to Nottingham or Sheffield, but on Sunday night Belfast had 23s, and that’s with four powerplays.
“It’s not men versus boys out there – these are good hockey games, and we keep our shot counts low.”
Dutiaume admits that his new North American recruits are still adjusting to the notion that every league point is important in the EIHL.
“For guys who come from the east coast, the league doesn’t matter, it’s the play-offs,” he said. “They don’t understand the frustration we have if you drop a league game.
“Who cares about two points in Manchester when you’ve just won your last four home games? But that’s not how it works.
“So far, they’ve understood the importance of the Challenge Cup and conference, but we also want to finish as high up this league as possible, and players have to realise you can’t take periods off, and certainly not nights off in this league or you just won’t have that consistent success.”
With Dundee Stars next up at Fife Ice Arena on Saturday, Dutiaume is looking for his players to maintain their winning start in the Gardiner Conference.
“We put emphasis on a lot of things, but certainly in the importance of the conference,” he said. “Dundee look like a team that will be doing much the same.
“We face them eight times, so you really need to be prepared to win the season series against them and get as many points against them as you can.
“I’ve watched a bunch of their games, and they are good. They are fast, and they find a way to stay in hockey games so we have to be prepared.”
Flyers then travel south to face Danny Stewart’s Coventry Blaze on Sunday.