Opponent preview: 2017/18 Fife Flyers
On Saturday night, the Genting Casino Coventry Blaze travel to Scotland for the first time to take on the Fife Flyers in the Elite League. With former coach and Captain of the Flyers, Danny Stewart and Ryan Dingle now in the Blaze ranks, who are the new Fife Flyers? Blaze TV's Ed Kimberley (@edkimberley) gives us an overview:
Todd Dutiaume is once again stepping behind the bench to lead the Flyers into battle this season. The Gardiner conference challengers have had back to back 6th place finishes in the Elite League and with the new league format will be looking to better that this season.
Re-joining ‘Dutes’ behind the bench is ex-Blaze forward Jeff Hutchins who takes up the role as Assistant Coach. Between them they have a lot of coaching experience. Dutiaume has been Flyers' coach solidly since 2005/06, whilst Hutchins has taken coaching roles in Dundee, China and spent his first season in Fife last year. He is also going to take on the role of under-18's GB Head Coach for the coming international season.
No man is an ILESand
Taking number one duty in the Flyers' goal is American Andy Iles. He has big skates to fill after Shane Owen last season, but he has the pedigree. The New York native, who won gold with Team USA under-18’s at the World Junior Championships and bronze with the under-20’s had a glittering college career. Attending Cornell he was a 2x Ivy League All-Star, an All-American and, rare for a goalie, wore an A in his senior year. Andy’s pro-career has been in the ECHL so far but has not been settled. It's hard to say why the collegiate standout has bounced around the Coast so much, playing with seven teams since leaving college. He did however receive 2x AHL call ups last season but did not play. Iles seems to be a netminder who will thrive in European leagues. At 5’9 he is not in the popular mould of NHL netminders who tend to be big and bulky rather than small and nimble.
Iles is backstopped by Jordan Marr, older brother of Renny Marr who was last season’s back-up for the Blaze, currently on a two-way with Swindon. The elder-Marr is already well travelled. Starting his career in Fife as a youngster before taking the leap across the pond to attend the OHA . Eventually enrolling at Finlandia University, a NCAA Division 3 school, he would spend 4 years splitting the netminding duties with a host of other goalies, playing 17 games. His last 2 years he spent in the EPL with Hull and MK, guesting also for Edinburgh last season keeping the crease for 3 games.
Banking on LeBlanc
One of the key import signings for Dutiuame is forward Peter LeBlanc. The Hamilton Ontario born forward posts a terrific CV including 132 points in 261 AHL games with 8 assists in 5 playoff appearances. He also managed to make a regular season appearance for the Washington Capitals and is the only Fife Flyer this year to have played in the show. While in his first stint in North America he was selected in to the 2010/11 ECHL All Star Game alongside Marco Vallerand and Ryan Ginand but was replaced due to AHL commitments. He first came to Europe in 2014/15 in the Allsvenskan with Rogle helping them achieve promotion to the SHL. The season after he hopped the border to play in the highly rated Liiga, the top league in Finland where he was 2 + 8 in 46 games for HPK. In the 2 Challenge Cup games he has played this season he has 2 goals and 4 assists.
Gauthier for Glory
Although Fife this season won't be the most imposing team, their tallest player physically may also have a big impact. Danick Gauthier is a 6’2 200lb French Canadian centre who has won a Memorial Cup and 2 QJMHL titles with St John. He also comes from good stock, his father Daniel had a long professional career including a handful of games in the NHL with Chicago. Danick has 238 ECHL games with 149 points but has not seen the post-season in his professional career. He will want to change that with the Flyers. He has AHL experience as recently as last season skating twice, scoring once for the Manitoba Moose.
One more year for Moyer
When the Flyers snapped up Russ Moyer last summer from rivals Sheffield Steelers they got themselves an Elite League Champion the previous season. The campaign before he also tasted success in Sweden, helping Karlskrona achieve promotion to the SHL. Adding to this the OHL Championship he won in junior with the Ottawa 67’s and Fife were signing a winner. At 35 he is the oldest player on the team but uses his experience to provide a steadying presence on the back-end. He is an excellent two-way defenceman with enough mobility to take advantage of the big ice in Fife.