Blaze go north to take on Flyers
Genting Casino Coventry Blaze make their first trip to Scotland today to take on the Fife Flyers (7.15pm).
The Kirkcaldy based side started the season well winning three of their first four games, including victories over Belfast Giants, Braehead Clan and Nottingham Panthers.
Since then though, the Flyers, like Blaze have gone on a short losing streak going down to Dundee Stars twice, Cardiff Devils and Edinburgh Capitals where they did manage a point falling in overtime.
The results leave them with two points from four in the Elite League and fourth in Challenge Cup group B having achieved five points from the possible twelve so far.
Tonight will be Blaze Head Coach Danny Stewart's first trip back to the Fife Ice Arena since leaving in the summer following five years with club.
Replacing Stewart in the role of associate coach in support of Todd Dutiaume is a former Blaze forward, Jeff Hutchins who has previous coaching experience winning the Gardiner Conference with Dundee Stars (2013/14) and most recently in Asia with the China Dragon.
6'2" Canadian Shane Owen back-stops the Flyers, posting a 0.912 save-percentage in the eight games played so far.
The defence is made up of familiar names to Elite League fans. Russ Moyer joined from the Champion Steelers, Ric Jackman from Fife's rivals the Braehead Clan and David Turon formerly of Dundee Stars moved back to the league following a short-spell in Poland. British pair Chris Wands and Tom Muir return as does 6'3" Canadian Philippe Paquet.
A further recruit on the Fife blue-line, Kyle Follmer has had his contract cancelled due to problems gaining a visa. Former Blaze defenceman James Isaacs was signed on short-term cover but has since departed for the Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL.
On the forward lines, Dutiaume has added further players with Elite League experience including former DELer Brenan Brookes, signing from Braehead Clan and the league's 2nd top goal and point's scorer of last season with the Manchester Storm, Matt Sisca.
Carlo Finucci earns a spot in the Elite League with the Flyers after impressing with the Swindon Wildcats in the EPL and 35-year-old Sebastien Thinel will likely provide a constant threat for Blaze having posted significant points throughout a career mainly in the now defunct CHL, France and the ECHL. Winger Chase Schaber, who brings ECHL and WHL experience makes up the new imports.
Captain for the 16/17 season and the club's top-point scorer last year, Ryan Dingle is part of a returning import core, along with the dangerous Justin Fox, Shayne Stockton and Brits Stephen Gunn, Josh Scoon and Jamie Wilson.
Blaze go into the game boasting the best powerplay in the league at 26.9%, Fife 7th at 16.7%. The penalty kill of the two clubs so far is similar, Blaze 81.3% (7th), Fife 81.5% (6th).
Head Coach Danny Stewart said to Craig Anderson for the EIHL website, “I’m sure it’ll be a bit of mixed emotions, I had five really good years there and put a lot of work in there watching the organisation grow both on and off the ice. It’ll be a little bit weird looking across at Dutes (Todd Dutiaume) on the opposite side and guys that I’ve played with in the past but at the end of the day we’re the opposition now and my main focus is righting the ship here in Coventry and going up there to try and get the two points. Fife had some early success beating some good teams so we are going to have to be at our best.”
Fife Head Coach Todd Dutiaume commented, “I think it’s a big game for both teams. Both teams are desperate for a win. I’m looking forward to seeing Danny. We have a long working relationship together and some moderate success in Fife. We really pushed the boat out for the last five years. This will be his first return to Fife so I image there will be a bit more of an edge to the game but the way this league is shaping it looks like there will be an edge to every game, teams are too good and we’ve been punished the last two weekends by just not playing 60 minutes.”
Watch the game online via the 24.7 webcast for a price of £8:
If you can't be in Fife or watch online, Twitter updates will be available via @covblazelive