Flyers desperate to lift Clan curse
Fife Flyers will hope to avoid a season whitewash against Braehead Clan when the Gardiner Conference champions visit Kirkcaldy for the final time on Saturday.
Last weekend’s back-to-back victories away to Coventry Blaze and Edinburgh Capitals means Flyers have clinched their Elite League play-off spot with four games still left in the regular season.
But their eight-game losing streak against their biggest rivals from Glasgow, and the failure to challenge for the division title, has been a major blot on a season of ups and downs.
With confidence and momentum crucial in the run up to play-offs, head coach Todd Dutiaume is certainly hopeful that the Clan curse can be lifted this weekend.
However, he pointed to the overall league standings as proof that, despite their appalling head-to-head record, there is not a huge gulf between the sides.
“For all the doom and gloom I’ve heard, we find ourselves two points out of fourth place, and two behind Braehead, who we haven’t had any success against this year,” he said.
“They’ve had all of their success in conference, whereas we’ve had the majority of ours out of conference.
“That’s probably been the difference between the two teams, and a big reason why they ended up lifitng the conference title.
“We will look back with a lot of regret on our conference performances, but you have to look at things positively, certainly at this point of the season when there’s still a trophy to play for.
“Our record against southern conference teams is well over .500 and that’s a great accomplishment for this club and a good positive step forward.
“Now we just want a positive result against a team that’s really had our number this season.
“In a couple of our head to heads we were short on bodies, and that was a factor, while in other games we just didn’t compete well. There’s a bit of a split there.
“When you don’t beat a close rival over the course of a season, there will always be talk of a psyhcological advantage, but I just don’t think we’ve been at our best against them.
“It’s a different game on Saturday night. We go in without the pressure of the conference we’ve had in past, and knowing our play-off spot is secured, so hopefully we can turn that tide.
“It would send us into play-offs in good stead knowing we can do it, and that we’ve beaten everybody in the league.”
Flyers travel to Cardiff Devils on Sunday where, depending on whether they win on Saturday, the hosts could be playing to clinch the EIHL title.
“We’d like to go down there and have a say about that,” Dutiaume said.
“They are a team you might come across if you find yourself going to Nottingham, so it’s important to put on the best performance we possibly can.”
Dutiaume confirmed that centreman Bryan Cameron will not be returning to the line-up this season and is heading home after failing to recover from injury.
There is also no possibility of Shayne Stockton returning - he is currently in America recovering from his long-term injury - so Flyers will head into play-offs one import down.
Dutiaume said: “We can’t do anything about that but let’s look on positive side of things – the guys have been short for the majority of season and have taken some big results.
“We seem to have guys who get into a groove when they are forced to pick up the slack and are just on the ice constantly. You just have to stay positive and work with the group you have.”