Fife Flyers on fire as fans flock to enthralling league finale with real prospect of full houses in Fife and Dundee

The stage is set for the most enthralling finale to any ice hockey season - and Fife Flyers sit at the very heart of it. They go into this weekend’s double header with Dundee Stars knowing a place in the play-offs is within their grasp, and that could be achieved in front of a possible full house at Fife Ice Arena on Sunday evening.
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The biggest crowd for the biggest game of all - is there a better way to wrap the regular season?And for head coach, Tom Coolen, even this is something new after a lifetime in the game - five teams separated by just three points, and only three play-off spots up for grabs.

Seventh-placed Flyers are tied with Dundee in sixth and Glasgow Clan in ninth, all on 49 points, one ahead of Coventry Blaze, and three ahead of last placed Nottingham. Flyers go into the last weekend as the undisputed form team, with more momentum than any of their rivals, and Coolen is setting no points targets for his team.

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“It is tremendous for the fans - this is what it is all about,” he said. “This is what you build teams for.”

Tom Coolen is steering his team towards the play-offs (Pic: Derek Young)Tom Coolen is steering his team towards the play-offs (Pic: Derek Young)
Tom Coolen is steering his team towards the play-offs (Pic: Derek Young)

Coolen put his players through a Tuesday training session with another light skate on Wednesday ahead of that night’s re-arranged game at home to champions Sheffield Steelers.

“No targets” he said. “I’m not even talking to the players about wins. The message is keep playing hard, do the things we do to be successful, and work first.”

He goes into the final weekend with a full, healthy roster - one buzzing with enthusiasm.

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“The players are enjoying it. They are on a roll, playing well, and they are having fun,” he said. “This is all about confidence - and they are confident and keen. They are determined, and when you have a possible sell out crowd on Sunday that is just fantastic.”

Flyers quickly repaired any damage done in a 1-0 loss to Nottingham - a game in which they gave up the fewest number of shots on goal all season - with a 5-2 victory over Guildford Flames to wrap March with points from seven of their eight games. Coolen hailed it as their “rebound game” and said: “I felt it was our most focussed game here I could recall. We took it to another level in terms of intensity with our forechecking and our determination. That is good to see at this stretch of the season.

“March has been our best month to date, and it has shown the calibre of the team we have here.”

The coach is unlikely to make any changes to his line up in the final weekend, and that means a healthy scratch again for Casey Gilling, while Shane Owen will retain his spot between the pipes.

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Coolen said: “I have no reservations at all about putting Casey into the line-up - absolutely none whatsoever - but it’s a hockey thing, when you are winning you don’t make changes. Shane is also in a groove right now.”

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