Fife Flyers: Five things we’ve learned from team’s first month on ice

October may have finished on a high note with qualification for the Challenge Cup quarter-finals, but it had more than a few bumps in the road for Fife Flyers.

Monday, 1st November 2021, 9:49 am

Here's our take on the talking points rinkside:

The team:Well, we know it can win games, hustle and find the net, and players are finding their feet amid growing confidence - but it remains a far from the finished product.

James Anderson and Jacob Benson have caught the eye with some fine performances, Shane Owen remains a stand-out netminder, and Scott Jamieson is making huge strides as he chews up early season ice time. That level of involvement to continue.

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Jonas Emmerdahl , Fife Flyers (Pic: Jillian McFarlane)

The fans are also getting to see more of Mike McNicholas, while the sight of Jonas Emmerdahl dropping the gloves late in Sunday’s game saw them rise to their feet in appreciation.

The roster still feels like a work in progress - that’s concerning given we are now into November - but the horror show of those opening weeks is starting to recede. Slowly …

Where’s Chase?One conversation continues to dominate rinkside - where is Chase Schaber, and when will he ice?The fans’ favourite was announced as a signing on October 14, but, since then, he has been completely off the radar.

There are clearly reasons why, but the club’s decision not to reveal anything has left fans frustrated, bewildered and, in all honesty, fed up.

James Anderson celebrates his goal for Fife Flyers against Dundee Stars (Pic: Jillian McFarlane)

The buzz around his return has been allowed to wither just when the team needed a boost on and off the ice.

His return can only strengthen the roster, but so many questions remain unanswered.

There may well be good reason for not divulging the reasons, but not communicating with the fans is simply the wrong approach.

Challenge Cup:Good grief, the format is wretched, isn’t it?Glasgow Clan’s opt-out left nine teams in the hat, so to then make them play round robin games for eight quarter-final places was simply absurd.

The tournament already has a dog-tired feel to it, and sits well down the pecking order when it comes to silverware - and that’s wrong.

To take an entire month to eliminate one team doesn’t generate any excitement or show the sport in its best light.

Let’s rip it up and start again for 2022-23 please.

Ringing the red light:

Hockey is a stats-based sport, and some of the numbers logged by Flyers in October raised eyebrows.

They scored just one or two goals in no fewer than five matches, saw their shots on goal dwindle to absolute zero in one period in Belfast - has that happened before in the game’s modern era? - and watched as Shane Owen dealt with huge numbers at the other end.

On the plus side, there were big wins.

An 8-0 demolition of Manchester Storm - a team which may struggle this season - and Sunday’s 5-0 whitewash of Dundee were very welcome. Interestingly, both came on home ice.

Success on the road has been more sparing, and that imbalance has to be addressed.

Flyers have been here before and it resulted in limited progress.

Until the holes in the line-up are patched, the fans could be in for a bumpy ride.

The art of PR:

You can sense the despair among fans as they look for news from the club - only to encounter radio silence.

Flyers’ woeful approach to PR has been well documented across many seasons, and, sadly, nothing seems to have changed this side of the pandemic, and that’s despite the best efforts of a number of volunteers behind the scenes. Their enthusiasm seems to be thwarted by the inertia that seems to hang like a black cloud over so much of the club’s operational approach.

The website hasn’t been updated since mid-October, and little has been done to build connections between the fans and the new players.

The national TV coverage enjoyed by Dundee Stars for its spoof of hit Netflix series Squid Game only underlined how far Flyers have fallen behind.

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