Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume is hoping to attract more big crowds to Fife Ice Arena after insisting his team will improve on their opening weekend showing.
There was a noisy atmosphere in the Kirkcaldy rink on Saturday as an attendance of over 2500, bolstered by a good travelling support, saw Flyers lose their home opener to Glasgow Clan.
The Kirkcaldy side recovered from the set-back to claim a 2-0 win in Dundee the following night, to make it two points from a possible four in the Challenge Cup.
Dutiaume is hopeful both home and away spectators were given enough encouragement to return this weekend, when Flyers get their Elite League campaign up and running with a trip to Coventry Blaze on Saturday followed by the visit of Nottingham Panthers to FIA on Sunday.
“The crowd on Saturday is something we want to build on,” Dutiaume said.
“We want to show that we’re going to be a hard-working club and the support we had home and away at the weekend suggests people are excited that hockey is back and they want to be part of it.
“It’s our job now to keep them interested and keep them in the building.
“There was a great atmosphere in here on Saturday and the guys were really aiming to please in our home opener, but it just didn’t happen.
“Looking back at the tape I don’t think we played badly. We started hot, but the puck didn’t drop. We then had a lull in the second period, and a strong-ish third.
“The guys then dug deep on Sunday for two crucial points.”
With four imports thrown straight into the line-up just days after returning from a summer in the Australian League, Dutiaume is expecting his side to improve as the weeks progress.
“There were maybe some teething problems and guys looked a little out of sorts,” he said.“It was uncharacteristic to see pucks bobbling off sticks, and passes weren’t there at times.
“I still contend that some players need to get in better shape, but that doesn’t happen in one day, we just have to keep pushing them to get to their best because the games just get harder.
“The guys coming in from Australia have been playing a few levels below, and they’ve been thrown right into the deep end so we would expect them to get better.
“Everybody needs to be a little better. That’s not a criticism of this group, we just know we need to be better because we watch a lot of game tape and teams in this league are flying. Everybody continues to up their game and we want to do the same.”
Dutiaume also plans to continue to rotate his Brit forwards in the coming weeks after switching between Bari McKenzie and Jordan Buesa over the weekend, with Chad Smith and Scott Jamieson also waiting in the wings.
“We’re going to try and roll a hybrid of four when everyone is capable of playing up at this pace, and being confident out there,” he said.
“We don’t have four solid lines so that will entail an import centre double-shifting, but it means we can rest the left side with Jamieson, and the right side with the odd man out there.
“We can run with three full lines and a partial four. We haven’t got there yet but it’s always been in our mind.
“It’s been a two year process with Smithy, and we’re going to continue to build it.
“I talked to him after the weekend and told him not to get disheartened about not having a lot of ice and that you’re going to get your opportunity.
“You hear the jungle drums asking why we don’t do certain things, but we don’t just fly by the seat of our pants. We have a plan for it and people have to earn their spots in training.”