Fife Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume says Dundee Stars nearly punished them, but paid tribute to his team after they won the Gardiner Conference title.
A 7-6 overtime win secured Flyers’ first ever Elite League silverware, but it looked precarious when the Stars took the lead with 46 seconds to go of the game.
However Charlie Mosey’s equaliser secured the point they needed to win the crown before Dan Correale’s overtime winner to sparked celebratory scenes among Fife supporters.
And Dutiaume also praised the patience and faith shown by the Flyers management in him since the club joined the Elite League in 2011.
“I think we may have been a little guilty of sitting back and trying to protect our lead towards the end, but you can’t do that against a good Stars team,” he said.
“Dundee almost made us pay the ultimate price, but the boys came good in the end and it’s well deserved.
“We’ve fought hard in this Conference this year and I have to commend the owners of the club who let a rookie coach at this level learn on the job.
“We’ve been through a lot of tough times, but they believed in the process that we’ve tried to do over the years.
“Trophy aside for one second, this team have made steps and improved every year. It was something we worked towards and I’m happy we’ve managed to keep that going.
“This team has a history of winning and you only need to see the roof at the rink to see this with the banners.
“There’s been a seven-year gap since we came into the Elite League and now we can start to fill it.”
Dutiaume also paid tribute to assistant coach Jeff Hutchins, who first joined him on the Flyers bench in the summer of 2016.
Hutchins himself was a Gardiner Conference winning coach having done so with Dundee Stars in 2014 and Dutiaume admits his experience was priceless to him.
He added: “Jeff has been an enormous help to me and we’ve got a fantastic working relationship. We get along really well away from the rink too.
“His experience and knowledge of the game has helped me incredibly since he came here and our styles complement each other really well.
“We’re two different people and two different coaches, but we make a hybrid of it that really works for us.
“With him having won the Conference before and things getting tight in the end, he’s a calming influence and we remained level-headed as the team got over the finish line.”
Photo: Steve Gunn