Todd Dutiaume: We need people rinkside to protect Fife ice rink future

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Fife Flyers’ coach Todd Dutiaume has pinpointed three key challenges facing the sport in Kirkcaldy.

After a difficult season ended in disappointment at missing out on the play-offs, he will sit down with the team owners to decide the next steps.

He said: “We’ll chat with the bosses to see the direction they want to go in. I’ve said before I will serve the club in any role that is required

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Flyers finished ninth in the EIHL - their third successive bottom two finish - but surpassed their goal in the Challenge Cup where they became the first Scottish team to make the final.

Todd Dutiaume (Pic: Scott Wiggins)Todd Dutiaume (Pic: Scott Wiggins)
Todd Dutiaume (Pic: Scott Wiggins)

But with just six home wins in the league, the team played in front of crowds which flatlined with the rest of the EIHL reported rising attendances.

Flyers’ average was just 1242 - down from 1363 in 2019-20, the last full season before lockdown, and significantly below the 2138 benchmark of the 2016-17 season.

A lack of success on the ice allied to a cost of living crisis, and a poor match night show are some of the factors in the decline.

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Dutiaume said: “Whether you are a critical of the coaches or players there are fundamental challenges facing this organisation.

“Number one is the survival of the rink. That’s hugely important.

“It is incredibly important to get people rinkside - whether that’s for a skate, to watch Flyers or even pick up a stick and play junior hockey.

“All of that leads to the survival of this building. If we lose it, this does not come back.”

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The head coach accepts a winning, entertaining team is a key factor in re-igniting the sport in Kirkcaldy - in not across Fife.

“We need an injection of life in this building,” he said. “We can do that with the excitement of a winning team.

“But there also has to be recognition this we are in one of the smallest markets in the EIHL - and that has never been more apparent.

“The work done off the ice behind the scenes this season has been important, and we were able to get back into schools for the very first time in three years. That was significant in starting to build the fan base back up.”