Extra edge for Flyers as former coaching partners go head-to-head

Ryan Dingle ready for a face-off during Fife Flyers defeat to Dundee Stars on Sunday. Pic: Steve Gunn
Ryan Dingle ready for a face-off during Fife Flyers defeat to Dundee Stars on Sunday. Pic: Steve Gunn

They were on the same side for five years, but Todd Dutiaume and Danny Stewart will go head-to-head on Saturday for the first time since parting company.

Stewart left his position as Fife Flyers assistant coach to take up the head coach position at Coventry Blaze during the summer, hanging up his skates in the process.

With plenty at stake, any friendship will be sidelined for 60 minutes as Blaze travel to Fife Ice Arena on the back of a five-game losing skid, while Flyers are hoping to halt a four-game slide.

“There’s always extra interest when an ex-player or coach returns, especially one who finds himself in a very similar position to me right now,” Dutiaume said.

“Danny is having a hard time winning games in that conference down there, but they are a good hockey team and they will win hockey games. We’re a good team as well and we’ll win games, but someone has to lose on Saturday.

“It’s a big league game, so we’re gunning for the two points. It’s going to be tough old game - tougher than last weekend.”

Flyers are looking to bounce back from a weekend that saw them pick up just a solitary point from an overtime defeat to Edinburgh, followed by a 2-0 loss in Dundee.

The two games failed produce a single goal for the Fife forwards - something that Dutiaume wants addressed.

“The two things we sold to the directors and our supporters was that we were going to be hard-working, fast-skating offensive hockey team,” he said.

“Right now there’s a few guys in an offensive funk and the longer it goes on the tighter players grip their stick and maybe they try uncharacteristic things out there.

“That can change in a shot, or a simple play, but these guys have to be willing to go out and do all the small things that make you successful, rather than that magical play that’s going to get you a goal.

“These guys have to know that they are under pressure. I’m not going to wrap them in cotton wool - they’ve been brought in to do a job.

“Sometimes when things are not going your way, and you’re feeling hard done by, you just have to go out and do the little things.

“I don’t think I can say that we had a guy who was big for us at the weekend, and that’s unacceptable, especially in this league.

“Every player has to be held accountable, and we’re not seeing that 60 minutes work ethic that should be synonymous with a Flyers team.”

James Isaacs departure has left Flyers with a void in the roster and Dutiaume is currently in the market for a left-handed defenceman.

“That’s my number one priority,” he said. “It’s important we find a suitable replacement quickly - even if it’s some temporary cover.

“Talking to agents, it’s apparent that lots of teams are dissatisfied with their performances so guys will become available, but it will be a competitive market.

“We may get lucky and get a guy with a European passport who can come in immediately, but someone who requires a work permit will take longer.

“With that in mind, we’ll be making a two pronged assault for temporary cover as well as a full-time replacement.”

Flyers travel across the Forth on Saturday to face Edinburgh in the Challenge Cup, face-off 6.00 p.m.