Finances will dictate Fife Flyers next move

Fife Flyers celebrate Ryan Dingle's empty netter. Fife Flyers 4 Edinburgh Capitals 2, November 12, 2016. Pic: Martin Watterston
Fife Flyers celebrate Ryan Dingle's empty netter. Fife Flyers 4 Edinburgh Capitals 2, November 12, 2016. Pic: Martin Watterston

Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume is still hoping to make improvements to his squad but admits club finances will dictate his next move.

Flyers currently employ 15 imports - one more than the Elite League quota - including Shayne Stockton who is injured long-term and potentially out for the remainder of the season.

With two full-time coaches also on the books, the club’s wage bill is higher than ever before, leaving Dutiaume uncertain over whether the club can afford further reinforcements.

“Hutch and I will continously be looking for individuals to improve this squad - not only in the Stockton position but in other areas as well - but, as of now, we’re not actively in contract talks with anyone,” he told the Press.

“It’s important for management to review what is financially feasible for this ice hockey club.

“I think the Stockton injury set them back a little bit, and I know it’s up to them to decide the direction we want to go.

“Going up to 15 imports puts us on thin ice so they may be struggling with it - I couldn’t say for sure - but we’re still looking to improve the squad.”

On the situation with Stockton’s injury, Dutiaume added: “Right now management are making the decision about what direction we’re going to go.

“Moving forward I’ll either be looking for another player - or will go with the status quo.”

While the off-ice situation remains unclear, Flyers are currently perfoming well on the pad and are riding high in fourth place in the EIHL standings with four wins from their last five outings.

The club bounced back from a 4-0 defeat away to Belfast Giants on Friday night with a 4-2 victory over Edinburgh Capitals in Kirkcaldy on Saturday.

Dutiaume said: “Belfast is a tough place to go - you’re on that boat all day. I thought we came out well, but we gave up two powerplay goals on soft-ish calls, and it’s one of the toughest buildings to come back in.

“We stuck with it, and tried to open up a little towards the end. They got a short-handed goal and sealed it with a fourth.

“We came back against Edinburgh who’d stung us a couple of times in the cup, and I think it was important we came back with a victory.

“Nothing is standard against Edinburgh but I thought we controlled big portions of the game. We dipped in the second but we responded better in the third and maturely saw the game out.”

This weekend Dutiaume will again lock horns with former coaching partner Danny Stewart, who brings his Coventry Blaze side to Fife on Saturday night.

Blaze have been searching for consistency all season, and this week made two changes to the roster, with forwards Björn Bombis and Taylor Carnevale replaced by Barry Almeida and T.J. Syner ahead of this weekend’s three-game road trip which also includes visits to Dundee and Edinburgh.

“We’re 2 and 0 against Coventry right now, but they’ve just a made a couple of changes and are constantly looking to improve their club, which is key in this league,” Dutiaume said.

“They come up up here for a Scotland swing this weekend abd will be eyeing big points in our conference to climb the table.

“Danny’s going to have them ready, but we have to be ready too. It’s definitely not a foregone conclusion and we’ll need to be on the top of our game.”

On Sunday, Flyers travel to Manchester to face a Storm side who currently lead the Gardiner Conference, albeit having played 10 games compared to Flyers’ five.

“We beat them handily on home ice last time but they were not even close to their best and we seemed to be firing that night,” Dutiaume said.

“They’ll have the advantage in their smaller building, whereas we have the advantage on the big ice, so we’re going to have to prepare for that and make sure that we go down there with an attitude that we are going to win a hockey game because once agan it’s two key conference points.

“Right now they are the team we’re chasing so we’re going to have to take points out of their building.”

Dutiaume has one eye on next month as Flyers start a run of 14 consecutive conference fixtures in mid-December which could define the club’s season.

“We go on an incredible conference run for a month or so and it’s important we find our form and stay healthy as it could be a potentially key point of our season,” he added.

“Cardiff went on a big run and that’s how they’ve created some distance. If we want to create some distance we have to do that.

“We’re riding things out right now and perfoming well in the league, but we have to be realistic about it and keep pushing these guys on.

“As soon as you’re satisfied with what you’ve done here, you’ll find you start slipping again.”