Flyers aim to produce Sunday best

Fife Flyers' Bryan Pitton in action v Dundee Stars
Fife Flyers' Bryan Pitton in action v Dundee Stars
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FIFE Flyers will look to produce their Sunday best when high-flying Nottingham Panthers come to town.

The match at Fife Ice Arena forms the second half of a testing three-game schedule which sees Flyers on the road to Hull on Saturday for the first time this season, then across the water to take on Belfast Giants on Tuesday night

They go into the weekend with Stephen Gunn still sidelined with a shoulder injury, but hopes are high key forward Jason Pitton will be closer to match fitness after a rib injury limited his effectiveness in defeats at the hands of Braehead and Dundee.

Once again Flyers will come up against an NHL skater with Nottingham having snapped up Anthony Stewart from Carolina Hurricanes on a short-term contract while the North American league’s lock-out continues.

His presence will certain catch the eye of local hockey fans - but they’ll be more keen to see their own players snap a three-game losing streak.

Flyers were beaten twice in one-goal hockey games at the weekend, and player-coach Todd Dutiaume, admits the results were a setback.

‘‘We have set the bar so high this season and done so well that results like these hurt - the dressing-room wasn’t a happy place at the weekend. It’s amzing how accustomed you get to winning!

‘‘We played incredibl;y well at Braehead and lost a last-minute goal. We’ve done that to teams this year so what goes round, comes around.

‘‘At Dundee I have to give huge credit to their netminder. We had a good number of shots on goal but he froze all the rebounds and kept everything to the outside. They also played incredibly tight defence.’’

Dutiaume admitted Flyers’ performance lacked a spark but he believes fans shouldn’t read too much into the blank weekend - or expect the club to respond with an immediate import signing to bolster the bench.

Flyers are icing with fewer imports than other teams, but are unlikely to go panic buying - it has never been the club’s style.

‘‘We’re possibly asking a bit too much of some individuals, but the same eight-import team that beat Shefffield got back to nine against Dundee and lost a one-goal gamne,’’ he said. ‘‘Of course we can always use extra bodies, but we work with the remit we are given and that was for nine.

‘‘My job would be a lot easier if we had 10 or 11 imports - more options and more cover - but will we get two extra players? I doubt it.

‘‘Will I push for one. Absolutely - we are not just content to have a great start and we want to keep developing the club and we are consistently talking to guys.’’

The club will be keen to avoid any major injuries as it heads into a demanding November schedule - a key month in the push to move up the standings.

One game has been dropped from the schedule - a trip to Belfast on November 30.

The decision to postpone the match to allow Giants to bring forward their home game against Nottingham Panthers by 24 hours has left Fife fans with travel and hotels booked out of pocket and furious.

The Irish side only two tickets had been sold to travelling Flyers’ fans, but many were already booked to go to Belfast for the weekend, and stay over to watch the Panthers match.

Dutiaume admitted he felt for them.

‘‘Our directors fought it,’’ he said. ‘’No-one from the league has spoken up to say ‘this is wrong - honour your schedule.’ Flyers fans came to see us play and now they have trips booked for nothing.’’

JOHN Dolan was listed in the GB squad announced this week.

The forward made the initial 30-man squad for the Olympic pre-qualifiers in Japan next month, but was not in the final 22 announced by coach Tony Hand.

Dolan is among the reserves.