FIFE Flyers will go into a must-win clash against Hull Stingrays with renewed optimism after the signing of a proven Elite League goalscorer.
Toms Hartmanis, a 23-year-old Latvian right winger, played 56 games for the now defunkt Newcastle Vipers last season, scoring 25 goals and 35 assists.
And after receiving a glowing reference from former Vipers coach Danny Stewart, now a player at Fife, coach Todd Dutiaume believes he has made a key signing.
“Danny couldn’t say enough good things about Toms, and that certainly helped my decision,” Dutes said.
“He comes as an established guy, having scored 25 goals in a struggling Newcastle team so he will bring that bit more firepower, skill and speed to our offence.
“It also gives us a little more depth on our lines, which should allow us to become a bit more dangerous around the net.
“Having another guy of that calibre also takes a bit of pressure off the likes of Siddall and Hamilton, and gives us another option up front. Toms is eager to start playing and he’ll be in our line-up this weekend.”
The arrival of Hartmanis co-incides with another Latvian heading through the Fife Ice Arena exit door.
Aigurs Brencis has left the club by mutual consent, returning to his family home in Ireland after failing to settle in the area.
His departure keeps Flyers import quota at six, but Dutiaume is keen to see this rise.
“Toms will probably be our only new addition this weekend but I’m continually pushing the owners for more guys,” he said.
“We’re still running with six imports, and I think that number needs pushed up to eight – immediately.
“We’re starting to score goals. We just need a solid defence back there to allow Zemlak and Daly to stop the puck for us. At the moment we’re needing to score eight to win games, which is a tall ask.
“By going up to eight imports and bringing in another couple of defencemen that would allow us to become an improved hockey team.
“We’re not playing great hockey right now, but I feel we’re on the verge of soemthing good. We just need some help.”
Weekend defeats to Braehead and Edinburgh left Fife rooted to the bottom of the EIHL, three points behind Hull in eighth.
And while the season is still in its infancy, Dutiaume has branded this weekend’s game against the Stingrays as a must-win clash.
“We can’t allow these teams to pull away, so we’ve go to grab two points this weekend,” he said. “It really is a must-win. Once you start losing touch it becomes really difficult to recoup the ground.”
Meanwhile, Flyers have made a change of captain with Danny Stewart stepping in to replace Jamie Wilson.
Dutiaume explained: “Jamie has been a great ambassador but the job has swallowed him up a bit this year. Hopefully this is the release valve that allows him to go out and focus solely on his game.
“Danny is the kind of strong guy we need to lead the club on the ice through these times.”