Flyers players told to seize their chance

Fife Flyers players celebrate a goal in last week's 8-3 win over Edinburgh Capitals. Pic: Steve Gunn
Fife Flyers players celebrate a goal in last week's 8-3 win over Edinburgh Capitals. Pic: Steve Gunn

Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume has told his players to seize their chance to go top of the conference this weekend.

Flyers face Manchester Storm at home on Saturday before travelling across the Forth to face long-time rivals Edinburgh Capitals on Sunday.

Two wins would see Flyers finish the weekend on top of the Elite League’s Gardiner Conference - a position they held for all of 24 hours last weekend before being displaced by Dundee Stars.

Dutiaume expects a tough test against a high-scoring Manchester side while a difficult match also awaits on Sunday away to an Edinburgh side going for a record seventh successive home EIHL win.

“The conference is tight, and the team that breaks out here could end up on top of the heap, and then all they have to do is fight to keep it,” Dutiaume said.

“We’ve got two big games this weekend with Manchester at home - a very offensively dangerous team that can break out at any time - and Edinburgh who are riding the crest of six straight home victories.

“It’s definitely not going to be a rollover - it’s going to be very difficult - but these are the weekends you need to be successful in to start climbing the standings.”

Dutiaume will be looking for vast improvements on the weekend performances - and he includes the 8-3 win over Caps in that assessment.

“By all accounts it was an entertaining game but I wasn’t overly pleased with the performance,” he said. “From a coaching standpoint we were much looser than we had been, for example, in the Braehead game, where we played a tight, solid defensive game.

“We took too many chances, and our stats count showed a high number of turnovers, which we’ve really worked hard on eliminating.

“That attitude possibly rolled over into the Sunday because we were ill-prepared for a different type of hockey game. It was never going to be like that Edinburgh match.

“Dundee and us were fighting for top place in the division - it was arguably our biggest game of the season so far - and for two periods we just weren’t at the races. We woke up in the third but it was just too little, too late.”

Dutiaume believes his squad has the talent to mount a challenge for silverware - his only question mark is over his players’ mentality.

“I really think it’s all mental with this club we have right now,” Dutiame said. “It’s about making sure they have team-think going on rather than individual. When these guys play as a group - and they stick to the game plan - we are a very formidable bunch.

“As soon as it looks individualistic, and they break off a bit, it’s very difficult for these guys to get themselves back in a hockey game.

“We have some new players to Europe - some guys maybe not used to the pressures of a league campaign, because they are always competing for a play-off championship.

“They maybe didn’t understand the importance of the longevity and consistency through a season.

“Now that we’re two months in I’m hoping the message has sunk in that this league is important to us as an organisation, and you have to bring it every weekend.

“You can’t take a weekends off like possibly in the minor pros in North America where some other guys can pick up the slack. We’re a group of 20 individuals and it needs to be brought on a consistent basis.”

Flyers were missing Michael Dorr and Jeff Lee on Sunday and both remain doubtful for the forthcoming weekend.