Fife Flyers in fine form for big weekend says Dutiaume

Todd Dutiaume
Todd Dutiaume

Fife Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume said his side will approach Saturday’s Challenge Cup quarter-final against Belfast Giants differently.

The Flyers take on the Elite League leaders in the first round of the two-legged tie at the Fife Ice Arena on Saturday before heading south for league duty against the Sheffield Steelers 24 hours later.

Dutiaume says that both games may require a different approach from each other.

“We have a lot of young and new players to this country who haven’t seen an aggregate match before so we’ve been doing a lot of talking about that and about managing the game,” he said.

“It’s a two-legged affair and you don’t want to your foot off the gas so we’ll approach the game a little bit differently.

“Being a cup match I think there’s a different mentality. I would say some time players don’t understand a cup competition that’s played within your league. Switching back and forth from Conference to League to Cup you have to keep mentally focused.

“I don’t think there’s a different pressure though, you lose and you’re out, but we performed well to get to the quarters and Belfast are an excellent hockey club but we’ve been playing some of our best hockey as of late, so we’re looking forward to it.”

The Irish side have the upper hand with two victories over Flyers this season, but Dutiaume thinks they are meeting at the right time.

“When we met them in the cup in their building we were really focussing on the Braehead game the next night and then when we met them here in November it was a tight match.

“They’ve got an awful lot of fire power and they’ve made a few changes so it’s going to be a heavy task for us.

“We’ve never advanced beyond this stage but we now have a team that is more than capable of doing so.”

The match coincides with the Flyers’ annual toy appeal and Dutiaume he is always amazed at the generosity of the support.

“I think it’s a fantastic thing. You see the presents being passed over the boards but when you actually see them altogether in one room, you see the scope of it and you recognise how many families you’re going to help.

“It’s a reflection upon our support who are thoughtless of themselves when it comes to charitable situations and they always surprise me with their generosity.”

Sunday will see the Flyers in Yorkshire playing Sheffield who they beat back in October.

Dutiaume said: “Last time we met then here both teams played a very tight and competitive match which we were fortunate enough to tie up late. It was a great result for us.

“We have aspirations of moving up this table and these are the type of games you need to win if you want to do that.”

Dutiaume also paid tribute to Flyers youngster Chad Smith who is currently in Dumfries playing in the World Championships with the GB U20s. He said Smith’s inclusion is a boost for the club.

“He’s pretty much at the stage we figured he would be. He’s one of the youngest in the team and this year has been about immersing him into the whole team atmosphere and he’s coming on well.

“He skates well and he’s been rewarded with a spot in the GB team. We have plans for Smitty, he just needs to keep working hard.”