Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume spoke of his frustration after narrowly losing out to Sheffield Steelers in the play-off quarter-finals.
Flyers came within one goal of causing a huge upset as the EIHL’s eighth-placed club went down 6-5 on aggregate to the league champions over two legs.
“It’s a frustrating thing,” Dutiaume told the Press. “For the last two weeks we’ve played something like the kind of hockey we always wanted to play, but haven’t got a win.
“The weekend was probably the best team hockey we’ve played for a long, long time.
“The boys played great over two legs but just fell one goal short.”
Flyers lost the home leg 3-2 to a last minute goal, and were 3-0 down in Sheffield on Sunday before tying the match at 3-3 in a stunning fightback.
Dutiaume added: “Going down a couple of early goals in Sheffield really hurt us, and, at that point, if you were looking from the outside in, it would seem there was no way back.
“But we discussed in between periods that we had nothing to lose, so we threw everything at them and managed to claw our way back into the hockey game.
“Earlier in the year, if we’d gone a couple of goals down, it would have been game over for us, but we showed the kind of fighting spirit we’ve been trying to install in these guys all year.”
While admitting Flyers deserved to finish eighth this season, Dutiaume felt the weekend performances showed the team was capable of better.
“In one respect, it’s validating because we’ve been banging our heads against the wall telling people what this team was capable of,” he said.
“As group, we finally did what I was convinced we were capable of, although waiting until the last two weeks of the season is clearly not good enough.
“Those were two good hockey games where everybody showed up to play.
“We were playing the best team in country right now and restricted them to 20 shots in our building.
“We also tied them up in their building – something we haven’t even come close to this season.
“I’m upset that we’re out and have nothing to show for our season, because there was more in the squad.
“But sometimes you leave it too late.”
With Flyers’ season now over, and imports due to fly home next week, the club will now begin the process of rebuilding for next season. “We’ll give the guys a few days to decompress,” Dutiaume said.
Flyers fans may get a chance to see some members of the team back on the ice on Wednesday, April 8 as a number of players are expected to feature for a Scottish Elite Select side taking on Romania.
Fife Ice Arena also plays host to a GB Senior Prospects match, again versus Romania, on Friday, April 10, with Kirkcaldy-born skater Steven Chalmers, who plays for Coventry Blaze, taking part.
Both games face-off at 7.30 p.m.