Fife Flyers: Five things we learned from opening weekend of 2021-22 season
Shut out in Coventry and beaten on home ice by Belfast – it was a tough start to the new ice hockey season for Fife Flyers.
The club’s team is filled with the new faces, many of them also in the very early stages of their pro careers.
Adapting to UK hockey, and the demands of a vocal fan base with big expectations, are two tough challenges which lie ahead.
Here are five take-aways from the first weekend of league and Challenge Cup hockey since the start of the pandemic:
Shane Owen: Flyers’ team is built on the most solid of foundations with Shane Owen between the pipes, but the netminder could be in for a busy start.
He pretty much held Belfast at bay on Sunday night when it looked as though just one goal would herald the opening of the floodgates - and in doing so, he allowed Flyers to grab an unlikely first period lead which then led into a better period two.
Owen’s composure, experience and resilience are more important than ever as this new look side beds in.
Goals: Three goals in four games ain’t good.
No team can live off such slender returns and hope to be part of the pack.
Flyers may have scored against the run of play on Sunday, but having done so, they got into a decent groove and had opportunities to blow this game wide open. None were taken.
Instead, they were handed a close-up lesson on ruthless finishing by Belfast.
Watch, learn and adopt.
Fans: They have turned out in good number for the start of this season -1600 on a Sunday is decent, and over 2000 for a pre-season match underlines the desire to be rinkside once more.
But they have to be convinced a hockey night is worth the admission money - and that means icing a team that doesn’t just entertain but sweats…. and wins.
Fans will accept a home loss, but only if the team gives its all.
It has to be convinced the team can challenge credibly.
That’s the baseline for many fans, and one this new team has to fully understand… and quickly.
Missing link: Flyers still have an import signing to make - and it has to be a big one.
The new centreman is, for head coach Todd Dutiaume, a key piece in the jigsaw, so whoever is added has to be a team leader and a powerhouse who makes things happen.
With the season started and the games coming thick and fast, the pressure is on to fill the spot as quickly as possible.
Match night: With parts of match night on hold to comply with regulations on large crowds, the club has to breathe new life into ‘the show’ - it needs a wow factor off the ice to generate the atmosphere key to galvanising the team on the ice.
Too much of the night still feels exactly like it did pre-pandemic, and in all honest that show was pretty stale.
Sport is showbiz. Time to bring some razzamatazz rinkside!