Todd Dutiaume insists Fife Flyers should be regarded as one of the most formidable sides in the Elite League.
The Kirkcaldy side sit second in the standings after the first quarter of the season, just two points behind leaders Belfast Giants, having claimed a notable 5-4 overtime win at the home of defending champions Cardiff Devils on Wednesday night.
While it may be too early to properly assess Fife’s potential as title contenders, their form throughout the first quarter of the season certainly suggests that they are to be taken seriously.
“The domestic campaign is a grind, and I don’t think all the teams get the credit they deserve,” Dutiaume said.
“We’ve seen up and down the line-ups we’ll be facing, and they are all formidable opponents, but we feel we are a formidable opponent too.
“Hutch and I have been in the game a long time and we recognise when we’ve got a group capable of doing something. That’s why we’ve been hard on them and demanding results.
“When our team is fully engaged and playing how we want them to play, we’re pretty happy with them.
“We’ve just got to continue working with them and tighten up a few areas, but it’s not luck that they find themselves up the table. We’ve got a good team here.”
Dutiaume has also called on the home crowd to play its part as Flyers look forward to the visit of Manchester Storm this Saturday – their only fixture of the weekend.
“We’d like to make this place a bit stronger of a fortress, and a big stronghold for us,” he said. “We’re getting there, and when we get the crowd on our side early, and get them engaged right off the bat, that makes a huge difference.
“We have a one-game weekend so its a chance to get some bodies rested up. We have a team function early on the Sunday to get guys hanging out together away from the rink, and hopefully they can celebrate a successful week as well.”
Marcus Basara remains on trial with the club with the coaches keen to get a few more matches under his belt before deciding whether to offer a longer term deal.
“He wasn’t playing a lot of big minutes in Manchester and he was more accustomed to the smaller ice rink,” Dutiaume said.
“It took him a while to find his feet up here, but over the weekend he got a couple of points, and he played well down in Coventry, so we’re starting to see positive things out of him.
“He’s a nice character to boot, so Marcus has a lot of things going in his favour. He seems quite happy and settled, so we’ll just continue with the process and see how it goes.”
Flyers could welcome back Jordan Buesa on Saturday after the youngster returned to training this week for the first time since getting injured on October 5.