Fife Flyers aim for festive cheer against Scottish rivals
Fife Flyers are hoping to score a festive points haul against their Scottish rivals.
The Kirkcaldy side will face Dundee Stars and Glasgow Clan over the course of the next week, starting with a trip to Dundee Ice Arena today (Boxing Day).
Flyers then return to home ice on Saturday to host Stars before travelling to Braehead Arena on Hogmanay for a year-ending clash with old adversaries Clan, who are also the first footers to Fife Ice Arena on the first Saturday of 2020.
With ten points up for grabs in as many days, Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume is looking for a big set of performances from his players as the season crosses the halfway point.
“Our message in the second half here is to come out positively,” he said.
“We start off against two teams who are all around the same area in the table and it’s important for us to stamp our authority on this.
“We need to be positive and play with that spark we’ve seen at times.
“It’s important to attempt to get points every single weekend we go into it.
“We’ve been not bad at it, but I’d certainly like to see more wins on the board.”
Flyers could be boosted for the busy festive schedule by the return of Chase Schaber as the forward is recovering well from a leg injury sustained in Sheffield two weeks ago.
“He’s responding very positively,” Dutiaume said. “We’re getting a scan just for reassurance to find out to what extent he actually is hurt. He’s very keen to get back - before he got injured he had been skating exceptional for three or four games.
“Chase brings that X-factor, but people forget he was recovering from serious surgery over the summer.
“I’m sure he’ll be the first to admit he wasn’t in the shape he’s normally in for the start of the season when he’s so effective, but we knew that going in, and he was getting there.
“It’s a shame he’s had this setback, we just have to allow it to repair itself, and while my medical team are urging caution, we are very keen to get him back in the line-up.”
Without their full complement of imports, Flyers have lost four of their last five matches.
“Guys have been logging an incredible amount of ice time, and good on them,” Dutiaume said. “Once they settle into regular lines they’ll have that reserve to see these games through.
“My message to them is that it’s a 60 minute hockey game, something we’ve been fighting all year.
“Mistakes will always be made, it’s how we recover from them, and how we’re engaged at the beginning of games, because that really sets the tone.
“Anyone watching the Manchester game on Saturday will recognise the team came in with a jump and intent that they were going to win the hockey game.
“That sort of message was very similar to the one Belfast laid down on Sunday.
“We were seriously hemmed in and guys were making some very soft plays at the start of the game, but I thought we recovered well.
“I really thought the guys dug deep, regrouped and laid it on the line. Unfortunately there were too many influencing factors and we just didn’t have enough to get over the line.”
Dutiaume reserved praise for defenceman Michal Gutwald, who was left with a bloodied face after a fight with Belfast enforcer Matt Pelech in response to a check to the head on Paul Crowder.
“We love Michal,” Dutiaume added. “Anybody who appreciates the work he does down low night in, night out will recognise what type of player he is. He’s such a quality person as well.
“It’s nice to see guys stick up for their team mates, and we should be doing it more often.”