Dutiaume: We're devastated - but Fife Flyers will be back

Todd Dutiaume behind the Fife Flyers bench during today's semi-final against Cardiff Devils. Pic: Richard Davies
Todd Dutiaume behind the Fife Flyers bench during today's semi-final against Cardiff Devils. Pic: Richard Davies

Todd Dutiaume has vowed to bring Fife Flyers back to the EIHL play-off finals weekend after suffering semi-final heartbreak for the third time.

Flyers hopes of reaching the final for the first time were ended by league champions Cardiff Devils, who claimed an impressive 4-0 victory in this afternoon's semi-final at the Motorpoint Arena in Nottingham.

The result was tough on a Fife team that firmly believed in its chances after a stunning comeback victory over second seeds Manchester Storm in last week's quarter-final.

Reaching the final just proved a step too far, however, Dutiaume firmly believes Fife can return to Nottingham and, one day, make it all the way.

"The guys are absolutely devastated," Dutiaume said.

"They were so excited, and they looked ready for it in our pre-game skate yesterday.

"It's a big stage out there and you need your big players to be at their best for 60 minutes. Unfortunately, we just didn't have that.

"I hate this feeling - I dread it - but every year this team is improving and evolving.

"We're in a way different place than we were a couple of years ago, and we're only going to get better.

"This is not going ot be the last time this club is back here.

"One of these years, it will be our turn."

Flyers put in a tremendous effort in a goalless first period, and Dutiaume admits the failure to capitalise on early chances proved costly as Devils relentless four-line hockey eventually wore his team down.

"I thought we looked great in the first period and we were holding our own," he said. "If one of the chances drops for us it's a different game.

"We hit the outside of the post, a crossbar and on the five-on-three we had an open net and somehow didn't find the back.

"Psychologically that's tough, but if you look at the other end, Andy Iles was relied upon to make two or three inredible saves.

"He's done that all year and he certainly gave us a chance to win that hockey game.

"We lost Stocks towards the end of the first and you just saw the legs go. We lost our offensive spark and then we were chasing the game.

"We can say we were fatigued and running short but a lot has to be said about the Cardiff team that we played.

"They're incredibly deep and they didn't win the league for no reason. They certainly deserve it but it's a little tough for us to take right now."

While disappointed with today's outcome, Dutiaume reflected on a successful season that resulted in Fife claiming its first Gardiner Conference title.

"It has to be said that this is a wonderful group I've had the pleasure of working with this season," he said.

"It's been so much fun, and that makes a coach's job so much better when you have a group like that.

"From the quality of individual we brought in this season, to winning the conference, to that dramatic comeback down in Manchester, it's had the ringings of a fairytale.

"I don't think we'd have been out of place in that final tomorrow, but you have to earn it."

Dutiaume will now look to lift his players for tomorrow's bronze medal match, which starts at noon, insisting his team will take a professional approach.

"I addressed the guys and said it would be a shame to peter out and not be remembered for the club that you are," he said.

"We have to come out tomorrow and put on a performance for our fans who came down and paid good money to support us.

"It's very difficult when your season is effectively over to have to put your gear on for another day, but these guys are professional, and they'll go back to work tomorrow."