Todd Dutiaume has insisted Fife Flyers’ recent upturn in form is all down the work rate of the players.
Dutiaume has stated on numerous occasions this season that he continued to believe in his players and systems – despite coming under criticism from fans after poor performances, particularly on home ice.
But, after three consecutive victories over Belfast, Cardiff and Hull – Flyers’ most impressive sequence of the season – the head coach reckons his faith has been justified, insisting nothing has changed except for the players’ work ethic and commitment.
“There’s no magic adjustment,” Dutiaume told the Press. “There haven’t been any crucial changes, besides tweaks here or there that we do all the time.
“Hard work and effort has been the difference in the last three games.
“People are entitled to their opinion. It’s easy to coach a hockey team from the stands. It’s not so easy when standing on the bench and the pressure is on. I put my hand up and say it’s one of the hardest jobs going.”
“But I’m glad I vocalised my belief in this team because if you start believing criticism or getting self-doubt it creeps in and it shows in yourself.
“But all along we’ve said we know what this team can do.
“It was getting to a crucial point there with the North American signing deadline, and we looked at all aspects of how we could improve the team.
“Would fresh blood make a difference? I certainly went over it a lot in my mind and it was debated a lot, but it was decided to give these guys a boot up backside and they’ve responded well.
“We have a good run going now and a decent schedule coming up - and if we keep this form it should see these guys well into play-offs and hopefully peaking at the right time.
“But that’s still a long way off. We still want to focus on a game at a time, like we have been doing, and just keep these guys motivated period by period.”
Flyers new found form will be put to the test this weekend as they face the Elite League’s bottom two clubs away from home with at trip to Edinburgh Capitals on Saturday followed by Dundee Stars on Sunday.
“Edinburgh are in a dogfight for that last place off spot right now, but they have games in hand so will be looking to get these crucial points against us,” Dutiaume said.
“And Dundee have vocalised this week that by no means is it over in their books.
“Everybody seems to be getting points at the moment and the bottom half of the table has really tightened up - so it’s going to be an interesting run in here, but all we can do is worry about ourselves.
“When we play like we do, we feel we should get these points and beat these teams, but it’s crucial we don’t count them as done deals because if we take the foot off gas or look ahead, then we’ll be trying to play catch up in the third period, which is something we don’t aim to do.”