Import search shelved as Flyers turn a corner

Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume
Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume

Fife Flyers search for a new import looks set to be shelved due to the imminent return from injury of Chris Auger.

Head coach Todd Dutiaume had threatened “one, possibly two” changes following Saturday’s disappointing 6-3 home defeat to Hull Stingrays.

But after Sunday’s gutsy 3-2 win in Hull, and the positive news regarding Auger, it now seems less likely that any changes will be made to the Fife roster before the January 31 deadline.

“The Auger situation was really uncertain and if it went on any longer it was vital that we brought in a replacement,” Dutiaume said.

“That’s no longer the case, and while we’ll continue to look to improve the team in any possible way we can, I’d like to think that we turned a corner on and off the ice on Sunday with our performance.

“We’ve under-performed for good portions of the season, but I still believe in this team, and having a full compliment of imports allows us to get more out of them.

“I don’t think we’ve ever had a full quota this season so it will be interesting to see how we perform.

“I don’t like making excuses for the guys because they’ve taken nights off, but injuries and suspensions have been key factors in a lot of our issues.”

Dutiaume stressed, however, that he has not completely ruled out making changes should results and performances force his hand.

“I don’t want to threaten guys jobs - that’s not my coaching style - but we have to eliminate our inconsistency,” he said.

“This is the full-time employment for most of these guys and we need them to turn up for work every night.

“All I’m looking to get out of them is the hard-nosed consistency that we know is inside of them.

“We don’t want to be languishing down scrapping for that last play-off place.”

Flyers were heavily out-shot in Hull on Sunday with Kevin Regan performing heroics in net, but Dutiaume felt the performance was a transformation from the poor display on Saturday.

“We were a completely different team,” he said.

“You could tell instantly that everybody had that competitiveness.

“Although it got nervy at the end it didn’t ever feel like we would lose that game.

“It started from Regan in net and filtered outwards. He had an exceptional performance and it injected belief and confidence into the whole team.

“We had guys playing - not extraordinary - but just like they should be on a regular basis.”

Flyers travel to Belfast on Saturday with an estimated 300 travelling fans set to make the trip hoping their team can emulate the 6-1 victory from their previous visit in September.

“That was a special performance and it would be great if we could do something similar,” Dutiaume said. “It’s important we take points out of every weekend now so we not only remain in our position but try to get back in touch with the group ahead of us.”

Flyers then host Belfast in the return game on Sunday evening and Dutiaume stressed the importance of improving the home form.

“Crowds have been exceptionally good and I think they realise there are watching good hockey but that results are not going our way,” he said. “Fife has been a very difficult place for teams to play in the past and we need to get back to that.

“The crowd and the team feed off each other and you can sense the crowd’s frustration if we don’t get a good start - it can get quiet - but we need to stay in control.”