Manchester Storm match an “absolute must” as Fife Flyers look to arrest eight-game losing streak

Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume. Pic: Scott WigginsFife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume. Pic: Scott Wiggins
Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume. Pic: Scott Wiggins
Head coach Todd Dutiaume remains adamant that hard work can pull Fife Flyers out of their current slump.

Sunday’s latest loss on home ice to Manchester Storm made it eight straight defeats for the Kirkcaldy side who now prop up the Elite League table.

Flyers take on Storm again this Saturday in an away fixture Dutiaume described as an “absolute must”, knowing that another defeat would leave his side five points adrift of the play-off positions.

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Victory, however, would close the gap back to just a single point ahead of the earlier 5.30 p.m face-off against Nottingham Panthers at Fife Ice Arena on Sunday.

“I certainly think this is a low point for us in terms of getting results,” Dutiaume said.

“I can’t remember the last time we had eight straight losses – possibly season one when we were out of our depth for parts of that year.

“The league is incredibly tight and we’ve found ways to lose hockey games.

“We’ve been involved in many one-goal games, where the two goals would be empty-netters, which is indicative of chasing hockey games and that’s not a position we want to be in.

“If you look at Sunday’s Manchester game, it’s my opinion that we should have been up.

“But it’s no secret that we’re struggling to produce offence.

“If you look at point production at the same point this season to last season it’s pretty different.

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“I could see if it was from a lack of chances, but we had plenty of chances.

“We just have a number of guys that are not burying right now, which leads to frustration.”

The answer, according to Dutiaume, is to produce hard-working performances from first minute to last.

“Hockey is very much a confidence sport, like many I suppose,” he said.

“Normally you would see a guy in a slump and you feel bad for him and wonder what he can do. But when you have a group of forwards in a slump it’s very difficult and guys start questioning themselves.

“I still contend that the goals will come if they put the work-rate in consistently for 60 minutes, which is something that’s eluded us for big portions of this season.

“You saw on Sunday, and even the start of the game in Coventry, it’s there.

“But when you ask somebody to do something, and they’re not seeing the results from it all the time, they tend to revert back to a default of the way they’ve been playing.”

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A key contributing factor in Flyers’ downward spiral has been their failure to capitalise on any of their powerplay opportunities in the past seven games.

Dutiaume insists however that he and assistant coach Jeff Hutchins are leaving no stone unturned in their attempts to ignite the spark.

“If anybody’s watched closely we’ve made numerous alterations over the course of the past month,” he said.

”A bunch of things have changed – we make changes weekly and tweak things.

“If we weren’t getting the quality shots, or getting outshot massively, I would be way more concerned than I am with guys getting in grade A positions, and not converting their chances.

“We had plenty of opportunities to put Sunday’s game to bed - they capitalised on their chances and we didn’t.”

The question on supporters’ lips is whether changes or additions will be made to the line-up ahead of the January 31 deadline.

“There’s no addition right now, but we can’t rule that out because we can’t just sit here and say everything is rosy,” Dutiaume explained.

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“But until that change is presented to us, or somebody’s going to make a difference, it is as it is right now.”

Meanwhile, defenceman Sam Jones is continuing to build up towards his return from knee surgery.

“Sam gets closer every time he gets on the ice,” Dutiaume said.

“I still think he’s a week or two away, at least, but it’s good to see him out there taking full practices.”

Jordan Buesa returns after winning a silver medal with Team GB U20s in the World Championship Division 2 Group A.