Fife Flyers target Belfast to make league sit up and take notice

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Fife Flyers take on champions Belfast Giants in a weekend double header with league and Challenge Cup points on the line either side of a journey across the Irish Sea.

It will be the new-look team’s first experience of a lengthy road trip to Stranraer on Friday and then a ferry ride to Belfast before making an immediate return journey to prepare for Saturday’s league encounter.

Flyers have struggled to post many wins in Belfast, but they make the journey with a full squad and with a momentum building on the back of a fine four-point weekend against Dundee Stars. The ultimate goal is points in both the cup qualifying competition and the league to keep the season rolling in October, but it is also a chance to see how they measure up against the champs.

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Giants posted a 1-0 win in Kirkcaldy a few weeks ago, but Fife skated with them, and the work ethic that sits at the heart of the team was evident as they dug deep to kill off a five-on three powerplay in the last two minutes of the match.

Tom Coolen is looking to make his mark in the games against Belfast Giants (Pic: Jillian McFarlane)Tom Coolen is looking to make his mark in the games against Belfast Giants (Pic: Jillian McFarlane)
Tom Coolen is looking to make his mark in the games against Belfast Giants (Pic: Jillian McFarlane)

Coolen has experience of taking a team to Belfast - he was at the helm of Polish outfit GKS Katowice when they played Giant sin the Continental Cup in 207-18, and is looking ahead to the challenge. His fast-skating team has already caught the attention of rival coaches who are starting to view Fife in a different light.

“We have to take our A-game with us,” he said. “We play our own game, keep it simple, be conservative perhaps, and think defence first, but if we do post a result we would have accomplished something that will make people sit up and take notice. We would have made a mark.”

Coolen is well aware of the tough travelling schedule that awaits his team, with little recovery time between getting home in the early hours of Saturday morning, and lacing up again to play that night at Fife Ice Arena.

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“There is nothing easy about this weekend.” he said. “That said, we have a lot of guys in the room who are competitors. They’ll answer the bell.”

Flyers will take an emergency back-up netminder with them to Belfast after Andy Little was ruled out of Sunday’s game at Dundee after being hit by a puck. The club took 16-year old Cameron Kenny from Kirkcaldy Kestrels to Tayside.

“It was a good experience for Cameron. We welcomed him into the group and thanked him for being part of the team,” said Coolen who is speaking with the club’s junior teams for options for this weekend.