Todd Dutiaume – Mr Fife

He’s on the verge of leading Fife Flyers to their second play-off finals appearance in three years and there’s no-one in British Ice Hockey who would begrudge Todd Dutiaume any of it.

Since arriving in Kirkcaldy as a player in 1998 then taking over as a coach in 2005, it’s fair to say Dutiaume is in with the bricks at Fife Ice Arena.

As the town gets ready to see their team push for the last trophy of the season in the Elite League, the Canadian admits his team’s work is far from done.

“We’ve been gearing up for this all week after the buzz of last weekend and we got back to work on Tuesday,” he said.

“There’s been a lot of backslapping going on and everyone I speak to in Kirkcaldy is looking forward to the weekend.

“We’re playing good hockey and I don’t want demean last weekend, but it gave us an ideal tune up for what lies ahead this week.

“I’m hopeful we can recreate the hard work and graft we put into the games against Braehead, but it’s also a fear that after such a high, we hit a comedown.

“It’s my job to stay on these guys and I don’t think they need me to keep them motivated, but they have to remember we’ve only booked our place in Nottingham – we haven’t won anything.

“There’s still work to do and there’s more to it than beating Braehead last week. They can’t get ahead of themselves and have to replicate what they did in the last two games.”

Nottingham Panthers stand between them and becoming the first Scottish team to reach the final on Saturday afternoon.

Two years ago they ran Belfast Giants close in their semi-final, losing 1-0 in a tight match in their first ever play-off finals game.

Dutiaume says his team will learn from that and admits he’ll lean on the players who were involved to use their experience.

He added: “It’s huge that all of our Brits, Kyle Haines and Danny Stewart all bring experience to the squad this year to guys that maybe haven’t faced the one-off situation we have here.

“As a group we went down there naively two years ago on the back of a long winning streak and Belfast stopped us in our tracks, losing 1-0 in that semi-final.

“This year we go there with that experience, draw from it and go there clear in our mind about what we want to accomplish.

“I’ve never made an issue of being called an underdog and I think it’s a big tag to wear. I feel that when we are at our best, we can certainly compete.

“We played some of our best hockey against Braehead, who finished third in the league and weren’t far off winning it. If we can bring that same intensity, I think we’re in with a chance.”

The excitement about Fife’s appearance is evident on social media, with fans scrambling for last minute tickets.

A massive crowd will descend on Nottingham as Flyers look to bring a trophy back to Scotland in the face of tough opposition.

But on a personal level, what is Todd Dutiaume looking forward to most about the weekend? The atmosphere? The chance of winning a trophy? Not quite, as he explains.

“Last time I went down there, I went myself and we had a great team and was a tremendous experience personally and for the club,” he said.

“This time my family is coming with me and I want them to see what a fun weekend it can be and witness Fife Flyers playing on Britain’s ice hockey top stage.

“I hope they get incredible enjoyment out of it and hopefully they’ll get to see their dad be successful by the end of it.

“As a club we’re taking a tremendous support to Nottingham, which I hope can propel us to the final.”

(Image permission: Steve Gunn)

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