Hard line approach pays off for Fife Flyers coach

Todd Dutiaume, head coach Fife Flyers. Pic: Steve Gunn
Todd Dutiaume, head coach Fife Flyers. Pic: Steve Gunn

Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume says he will continue to take a hard line with his players after a strict week of training resulted in a four-point weekend.

Dutiaume took a tough approach in the week leading up the Dundee Stars double-header and it paid dividends as back to back wins ended a four-game losing streak.

He told the Press: “We’ve known for a while it’s individual errors - guys going off on their own page, cheating and cutting corners.

“It’s tough to root out the squad but I was very hard on them last week - and we probably needed it.

“I hope it finally sinks home that good things can happen when you stick with it and play with a bit of physicality.

“In some ways it’s an older team, but in other ways it’s a team that really needs structure at the top to trickle down.

“We’re a very talented bunch, and sometimes it’s easy to try to rely on your talent instead of the hard work.

“The talent will always be there, but the hard work and commitment is what we expect of those guys.

“If we can find a way to get the hard work every night, the talent will take care of itself, like it did on Sunday.

“You won’t win every game, but you’ll be in every game, and instead of individual accolades, you’ll have team results, which is the most important thing.

“We won’t take our foot off the gas with these guys. If it means practice isn’t fun and is a lot of hard work – so be it. The guys need to know it’s not a holiday camp.”

Dutiaume’s strict stance saw players who had been passengers in previous fixtures step up to the mark against Dundee.

“We saw the same name bars on the back, but a lot of different players,” he said. “The difference? Hard work, commitment, not cheating or cutting corners, and playing sound defensively. Our solid defence results in the offence we generate. That’s been drilled and drilled into them. I hope they finally get it.

“It’s going to be up to me to be the bad guy and keep harping on it, but that’s my job and I’m willing to do it. You see when this team is committed, good things can happen.”

The newly-formed Dingle-Fox-Thinel line generated a lot of offence for Fife over the weekend, but Dutiaume reserved his praise for his third line grafters.

“I made special mention in the room of Isaacs-Schaber-Scoon line,” he said.

“I thought they were tremendous all weekend. They got us going with their physicality and simple play and it paid off as Schaber ends up with a much needed goal which will be great for his confidence.

“But it’s not even the goal I’m worried about – it’s the consistent skating and steady play with a bit of grit from that line which we sorely needed.

“For the most part, they really stuck with the plan. On Sunday, three of the four goals we lost were just blatant mistakes that we know we shouldn’t be making.

“It wasn’t a system break down, it was individual error, and that’s what we’ve been suffering from a lot. In a one goal game one of those individual errors can cost you the game.

“On Sunday it didn’t – we had enough offence. I’m happy for the boys because they’ve taken a lot of heat - we all have - and this is a good confidence booster.

“This was a big character-building weekend for this club. We were down three times and three times we came back. We haven’t had that pushback in the past, so it’s nice to see.”

With Shayne Stockton injured, Flyers currently have defenceman James Isaacs filling in as a temporary forward, but Dutiaume is also pursuing a permanent fix.

“We’re seeking a second opinion on Stocks but I think I can safely say it’s going to be a long term injury,” he said.

“Our number one priority is going to be to look to replace that position with someone, and in the meantime just continue to monitor our dressing room because a four point weekend is tremendous for the club, but it doesn’t erase any long term issues that we have. Now it’s up to us to show we have the consistency and wherewithal to stick with it.”

Flyers face league leaders Cardiff Devils at Fife Ice Arena on Sunday in the club’s only fixture of the weekend.

“Cardiff are a fast-paced team, very deep and physical,” Dutiaume said. “They are top of the league for a reason and this will be our sternest test yet in Kirkcaldy.

“However, they go to a tough Edinburgh building on Friday, then up to a good skating Stars team on Saturday so we’re getting them at the end of a three in three. We’ll need to go at them hard to take advantage of that.”