The Fife Flyers are a Scottish professional ice hockey team in Kirkcaldy, Fife. Established in 1938, the Flyers are the oldest still-extant club in the country.

Fife Flyers
CityKirkcaldy, Scotland
LeagueElite Ice Hockey League
Founded1938
Home arenaFife Ice Arena
ColoursBlue, gold, white
     
Owner(s)Tom Muir and Jack Wishart
Head coachTom Coolen
CaptainJonas Emmerdahl [1]
AffiliatesSolway Sharks, NIHL; Kirkcaldy Kestrels, SNL

The Flyers play their home games at Fife Ice Arena, which has a capacity of just over 3,000 (seated and standing).

They joined the EIHL in 2011. They are currently coached by Canadian Tom Coolen, a one-time Buffalo Sabres assistant coach.[2]

History edit

Early years (1938–1980) edit

 
Kirkcaldy Ice Rink, seen c. 1938. Fife Flyers have played here for their entire history.

Fife Flyers' first game was on 1 October 1938 versus Dundee Tigers, with the first goal scored by Norman McQuade and the first club captain being Les Lovell Snr.[citation needed]

The Flyers won the Scottish element of the Autumn Cup for the first time in 1948, felling Falkirk Lions in the Final. They were runners-up in their attempt to defend the title in a year where they also won the Scottish National League (SNL) for the first time. Fife won the Scottish Autumn Cup back in 1950, this time against the Ayr Raiders, which formed a Double as they retained the SNL title. In 1954 Fife joined the British National League, and in its maiden campaign finished ninth in the eleven-strong division. The League was reduced from eleven to five after all but one–the Paisley Pirates–of the Scottish contingent pulled out.[citation needed]

In 1972 Fife won the Northern Autumn Cup–reconstituted as a regional tournament in 1967–before lifting it three more timesthat decade. They would also achieve success in league action, winning the Northern League two seasons running. The Flyers also played in the one-season Scottish National League in 1981–82, finishing third.[citation needed]

British Hockey League years (1982–1996) edit

Fife joined the new British Hockey League (BHL) in 1982. In the 1984–85 BHL season, the Flyers won the Scottish section of the now-national Autumn Cup, before losing the Final at Streatham Ice Rink against Durham Wasps. The Wasps also pipped Fife to the regular season championship, but the playoffs were won by Fife, who beat fellow Scots the Murrayfield Racers in the final. The Racers' revenge came in the playoff semi-finals the following season. Fife Flyers were beaten Autumn Cup finalists again in 1986–87, losing to the Nottingham Panthers at the National Exhibition Centre,[3] and there was no silverware in the playoffs either as Durham Wasps defeated Fife, as they did in the following season. The 1988–89 BHL season saw Fife Flyers fail to graduate from their playoff group, sparking a barren run which would take in semi-final defeat to Welsh club Cardiff Devils in 1989–90, a finish of dead last the year after, and a season outside the top-flight; reaching the BHL final four for the final time in the 1993–94 BHL season.[citation needed]

The final BHL season was 1995–96, after which time the Ice Hockey Superleague became the new top British league.[citation needed]

Back in the British National League (1996–2005) edit

 
The original analogue hockey clock. Since replacement, this clock has been kept in storage.

The Flyers joined the new second tier British National League (BNL) in 1996. The BNL featured a Premier League and a Northern Premier League in the début season. Fife finished top of the Northern Premier League's first round, before winning the playoffs. They lost the Inter-League Final to the Swindon IceLords, however Ice Hockey Journalists UK (IHJUK) awarded both the Coach of the Year Trophy and Player of the Year Trophy to Mark Morrison. The second season saw the conferences of five teams renamed to Northern and Southern Pools, and again Fife came top of their region. In the National Pool they finished sixth out of nine (the Cardiff Devils' second side were excluded from the National Pool), with all ten teams in the end-of-season events. Having won Group B to be Scotland's only survivors, the Flyers were downed in the semi-finals by Hullite club Kingston Hawks.[citation needed]

The BNL did away with regional conferences for 1998–99, and Fife Flyers finished fifth in the first round, with Slough Jets top of the nine-strong league. With only bottom club Paisley Pirates failing to make the playoffs, both the Flyers and the Jets qualified from Group A, and both won their semi-final (against Guildford Flames and Basingstoke Bison respectively) to face each other in the Final, which was won by the Scottish club, giving them their first BNL title. Defending their title in 1999–2000, the Flyers finished first both in the regular season and their playoff group before winning the semi-final, and the Final itself, against Basingstoke Bison.[citation needed]

Searching for a three-peat in 2000–01, the Flyers delivered their worst BNL performance yet, failing to reach the semi-finals for the first time at this level. Flyers posted a semi-final finish in three of the following four campaigns: beaten by Dundee Stars in 2001–02, by the Bracknell Bees in 2003–04 and in 2004–05 (the last BNL season), the Flyers fell to the Flames, after only last-placed Edinburgh Capitals failed to qualify for the playoffs.[citation needed]

After the Edinburgh Capitals and Newcastle Vipers joined the top-flight Elite Ice Hockey League (the Superleague having ceased operations in 2003), the BNL folded, with all the former BNL clubs joining other leagues.[citation needed]

Silverware in Scotland: British, Caledonian, and Celtic competitions (2005–2011) edit

 
The newer electronic clock and scoreboard, introduced in the early 21st century

The Flyers' next destinations were the resurrected Northern League and the third iteration of the SNL. They were very successful in their first season at these levels, winning both Leagues, their respective playoffs, the Scottish Cup, and the Scottish Autumn Cup.[4] These comprised a Grand Slam.[5] The following season, the John Brady Bowl–awarded to Northern League playoff champions[4]–was the only trophy to have eluded them.[5]

Leaving the SNL but remaining in the Northern League, Fife were founder members of the five-team Scottish Premier Hockey League in 2007. They extended their dominance to this new division; since Fife Flyers entry in to the Scottish Premier, they have won 11 out of 12 trophies while recording a new club record of 47 consecutive wins and a 50-game unbeaten run, from September 2006 to April 2007, while again winning the regular season and the playoffs in both set-ups.[6] Flyers entered the Celtic League Cup for its inaugural competition in 2008–09, a league composed of six clubs, two from Ireland and four from Scotland. They finished top of the league, and won the four-team playoffs, as well as winning the Northern League, Scottish Cup, and Scottish Autumn Cup.[7] A more modest season was to follow as their haul in 2009–10 featured the Scottish Cup and the final Celtic League Cup,[8] before their final season in the Northern League ended with Fife first.[9]

Flying high: Fife in the Elite League (2011–present) edit

In late June 2011, the Fife Flyers were accepted into the EIHL, replacing the Newcastle Vipers for the 2011–12 season. The Flyers found the going tough in their first season back in Britain's top flight ice hockey league, finishing in last place and missing the play-offs entirely. With a year of top-flight experience, the Flyers' second season (2012–13) was moderately more successful. The team, led by key players Casey Haines, Derek Keller, and Bryan Pitton, won at home, but struggled to win games away from Kirkcaldy. They finished seventh in the league, resulting in an eighth position seeding for the play-offs (Hull Stingrays, despite finishing 8th in the league, had won their conference and were consequently seeded second overall as conference winners). Fife played Nottingham Panthers over two hotly contested legs, winning 4–2 at home before losing 3–0 in Nottingham and being eliminated from the play-offs.

In the 2013–14 season, a squad overhaul meant that only two foreign players, Bobby Chaumount and Danny Stewart, returned from the previous year. After a poor start to the season continued through the winter, changes were made in February, and an ensuing successful run saw them qualify for the play-offs in the last game of the season. They defeated the Gardiner Conference champion Dundee Stars 8–4 on aggregate and made the final four play-off finals in Nottingham. Their semi-final game against the league winning Belfast Giants was hotly contested, but the Giants emerged 1-0 winners.

While many players from the semi-final team returned for the 2014–15 season, the team saw mixed results. The Flyers qualified for the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup and for the play-offs, but did not progress to the finals. With only Danny Stewart and Kyle Haines returning as foreign players for 2015–16, the squad underwent a major overhaul. The Flyers finished 6th in the league and 2nd in their conference, losing to Braehead Clan on equal points. Fife drew the Clan in the quarter-finals and won a close victory (2-1 at home, 2–2 away after overtime). Their semi-final game against Nottingham Panthers was less successful, with Fife losing by a score of 4–1.

Fife Flyers won the Gardiner Conference for the 2017–18 season with an away win over Dundee Stars securing the title. In the 2017–18 season they finished 7th. Fife Flyers were among the early pacesetters in the race for the 2018–19 title, after their positive start to the season, but they finished in 6th in the standings.

The 2019–20 season proved to be their worst on-ice performance since their inaugural season in the league in 2011–12, with the Flyers bottom of the table in 10th at the time of the league's cancellation, due to the coronavirus pandemic, in March 2020.[10][11]

In July 2021, the Flyers confirmed their intention to return to Elite League action for the 2021–22 season, following the cancellation of the 2020–21 campaign.[12] The club also confirmed the return behind the bench of head coach Todd Dutiaume and assistant coach Jeff Hutchins.[13]

The 2021–22 Elite League campaign resulted in a finish bottom of the standings (10th) and saw Fife miss the play-offs by 14 points.[14] In June 2022, the Flyers once again announced the return of head coach Todd Dutiaume, who also took on General Manager responsibilities. Assistant coach Jeff Hutchins was named an associate coach with a greater say in the day-to-day running of the team.[15]

On 15 February 2023, Fife reached the final of the Challenge Cup for the very first time, with a 7-6 aggregate win (after the shootout) against the Sheffield Steelers. The final saw Fife take on the Belfast Giants.[16] However, the Flyers would lose 9–3 at a sold out SSE Arena on 1 March to the hosts Belfast, who claimed their fourth Challenge Cup title in five seasons.[17]

However, in the league in the 2022–23 season, Fife finished in 9th on 34 points from 54 games (14-34-6) and missed out on the play-offs by just one point to Glasgow Clan, who took the 8th and final spot.[18]

Departure of Dutiaume and Hutchins edit

Major change came to the Flyers ahead of the 2023–24 EIHL season. In June 2023, it was announced that long-time head coach Todd Dutiaume and Associate coach and Director of Player Development Jeff Hutchins would step back from their coaching roles with immediate effect. Dutiaume had been associated with Fife for 25 years, first as a player, then – from 2005 – as player/head coach, overseeing the Flyers' rise to the Elite League in 2011 and becoming full-time head coach in 2014. Meanwhile, Hutchins had first joined Fife back in 2016.[19]

Arrival of Coolen edit

At the end of June 2023, the Fife Flyers named experienced Canadian Tom Coolen as their new head coach. Coolen, a one-time former Buffalo Sabres assistant, had most recently coached Romanian side HSC Csíkszereda, and moved to Kirkcaldy having also worked behind the bench in Slovakia, Poland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland and Finland.[20][21]

Elite Ice Hockey League record edit

Season League Conference Playoff Challenge Cup
2011–12 EIHL 10th Group
2012–13 EIHL 7th Gardiner 2nd QF QF
2013–14 EIHL 7th Gardiner 3rd 4th QF
2014–15 EIHL 8th Gardiner 2nd QF QF
2015–16 EIHL 6th Gardiner 2nd 4th QF
2016–17 EIHL 6th Gardiner 3rd QF Group
2017–18 EIHL 7th Gardiner 1st SF QF
2018–19 EIHL 6th Gardiner 3rd QF Group
2019–20 EIHL 10th Group
2020–21†† EIHL Cancelled Cancelled Cancelled
2021–22 EIHL 10th QF
2022–23 EIHL 9th Runners-up
2023–24 EIHL 8th QF

Note the 2019–20 season was cancelled in March 2020, with Fife having played 49 games, due to the Coronavirus pandemic. The league and play-offs finished without a winner and the above stat line reflects the Flyers' position at the time of the cancellation.

†† Note: The 2020–21 Elite League season – originally scheduled for a revised start date of 5 December – was suspended on 15 September 2020, because of ongoing coronavirus pandemic restrictions. The EIHL board determined that the season was non-viable without supporters being permitted to attend matches and unanimously agreed to a suspension.[22] The season was cancelled completely in February 2021.[23]

Current squad edit

Squad for 2023–24 Elite League season [24]

Netminders
No. Player Catches Acquired Place of Birth Joined from Press Release
1   Andrew Little L 2018 Paisley, Scotland Kirkcaldy Kestrels, SNL [1]
26   Dominik Salama L 2024 Vantaa, Finland STS Sanok, Polska Hokej Liga [2]
50   Shane Owen L 2021 Markham, Ontario, Canada Coventry Blaze, EIHL [3]
Defencemen
No. Player Shoots Acquired Place of Birth Joined from Press Release
4   Fynn Page R 2022 Kirkcaldy, Scotland Ontario Hockey Academy U18, CSSHLE U18 [4]
9   Brodie Kay* R 2023 Edinburgh, Scotland Kirkcaldy Kestrels, SNL [5]
28   Brady Pouteau L 2023 Oak Bluff, Manitoba, Canada Regina Cougars, U Sports [6]
44   Jonas Emmerdahl C L 2021 Stockholm, Sweden Östersunds IK, Hockeyettan [7]
59   Aleksi Makela R 2023 Kiiminki, Finland Ritten Sport, AlpsHL [8]
62    Kevin Wehrs L 2024 Plymouth, Minnesota, United States No Team [9]
Forwards
No. Player Position Acquired Place of Birth Joined from Press Release
15   Collin Shirley LW/C 2023 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada UTE, Erste Liga [10]
19   Vitalijs Pavlovs C/RW 2023 Riga, Latvia HC 19 Humenné, Slovak Extraliga [11]
21   Max Humitz C/LW 2023 Livonia, Michigan, United States South Carolina Stingrays, ECHL [12]
22   Johan Eriksson RW/LW 2023 Gavle, Sweden Dundee Stars, EIHL [13]
39   Casey Gilling C 2023 Gaylord, Michigan, United States Esbjerg Energy, Metal Ligaen [14]
49   Teemu Pulkkinen RW 2023 Kirkkonummi, Finland GKS Katowice, Polska Hokej Liga [15]
61   James Spence RW 2021 Glenrothes, Scotland Opole HK, Polish 1. Liga [16]
70   Drake Pilon RW 2023 Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada Kalamazoo Wings, ECHL [17]
79   Kyle Osterberg RW/LW 2023 Lakeville, Minnesota, United States Eisbaren Regensburg, DEL2 [18]
86    Lucas Chiodo C 2023 Churchill, Ontario, Canada HC Merano, AlpsHL [19]
91   Troy Lajeunesse LW 2023 Dokis, Ontario, Canada Savannah Ghost Pirates, ECHL [20]
On Loan
No. Player Position Acquired Place of Birth Playing For Press Release
Team Staff
No. Name Position Place of Birth Joined from Press Release
N/A   Tom Coolen Head Coach Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada HSC Csíkszereda, Erste Liga [21]
N/A   Mike Hildenbrand Equipment manager Canada No team [22]
Recent departures
No. Player Position Acquired Leaving For Press Release
8   Sean Giles D 2023 Eisbaren Regensburg, DEL2 [23]

Retired jersey numbers edit

  • 16   Gordon Latto, the team's longest serving player who started playing with Fife Flyers in 1972 and retired in 1998, recording 974 games with a total of 1,265 points.
  • 17   Mark Morrison
  • 47   Frank Morris
  • 14 – Was considered unlucky and taken out of circulation following a serious eye injury to the British forward Andy Linton and a career-ending injury to the Canadian defenceman Calvert Brown, but has been re-introduced in recent years.

Player records edit

All time statistics

Season records

  • Most goals in a season: 108 – Dave Stoyanovich (1984–85)
  • Most assists in a season: 117 – Dave Stoyanovich (1986–87)
  • Most points in a season: 211 – Richard LaPlante (1991–92); 189 – Mark Morrison (1993–94); 188 – Bud Scrutton (1948–49); 185 – Dave Stoyanovich (1984–85) & Chick Mann (1948–49)
  • Most powerplay goals in a season: 38 – Russell Monteith (1999–00)
  • Most shorthanded goals in a season: 13 – Doug Smail (1993–94)
  • Most shut-outs in a season: 7 – Blair Daly (2006–07); 5 – Roy Reid (1964–65)

Game records (all players)

  • Fastest goal in 1 game: 6 seconds – Les Lovell (1975)
  • Most goals in 1 game: 13 – Dave Stoyanovich (1984)
  • Most assists in 1 game: 13 – Steve Moria (1987)
  • Most points in 1 game: 17 – Richard LaPlante (1991)

Game records (home based players)

  • Most goals in 1 game: 8 – Jimmy Spence (1964); 7 – Les Lovell (1976) & John Haig (1997)
  • Most assists in 1 game: 9 – Gordon Latto(Snr) (1977) & Ally Brennan (1976)
  • Most points in 1 game: 11 – Gordon Latto(Snr), John Taylor & Les Lovell (all 1977) 10 – John Haig & Steven King (1997) 9 – Chic Cottrell (1974)

BIHWA Hall of Fame inductees edit

All Star honours edit

Player of the Year Trophy[25]

Coach of the Year Trophy[26]

Player's Player of the Year

Netminder of the Year

Ahearne Medal

Rookie of the Year

  •   Chic Cottrell 1970–71

Young Player of the Year

  •   Iain Robertson 1989–90

EIHL All Stars Second Team [24]

Notable former players edit

Honours edit

References edit

  1. ^ "Elite Prospects – Team Captains of Fife Flyers".
  2. ^ "Flyers appoint Coolen as Head Coach".
  3. ^ "A strip down memory lane". Nottingham Panthers Official Matchnight Magazine, Against Manchester Storm and Sheffield Steelers. Nottingham Panthers: 29. 22 March 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Championnat de Grande-Bretagne 2005/06" [Championship of Great Britain 2005/06]. hockeyarchives.info (in French). Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Championnat de Grande-Bretagne 2006/07" [Championship of Great Britain 2006/07]. hockeyarchives.info (in French). Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  6. ^ "Championnat de Grande-Bretagne 2007/08" [Championship of Great Britain 2007/08]. hockeyarchives.info (in French). Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  7. ^ "Championnat de Grande-Bretagne 2008/09" [Championship of Great Britain 2008/09]. hockeyarchives.info (in French). Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  8. ^ "Championnat de Grande-Bretagne 2009/10" [Championship of Great Britain 2009/10]. hockeyarchives.info (in French). Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  9. ^ "Championnat de Grande-Bretagne 2010/11" [Championship of Great Britain 2010/11]. hockeyarchives.info (in French). Retrieved 24 March 2017.
  10. ^ "Standings 2019/2020 Elite Ice Hockey League". EIHL. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  11. ^ "EIHL cancels all matches for rest of season". EIHL. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  12. ^ "45_ClubStatement". Archived from the original on 12 July 2021. Retrieved 17 July 2021.
  13. ^ @FifeFlyers (16 July 2021). "Welcome back Todd and @hutchy071 who..." (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  14. ^ "Standings 2021/2022 Elite Ice Hockey League".
  15. ^ "Fife Flyers Official Website".
  16. ^ "Johansson puts Flyers into first-ever Challenge Cup Final!".
  17. ^ "Giants win 2023 Viaplay Challenge Cup!".
  18. ^ "Standings 2022/2023 Elite Ice Hockey League".
  19. ^ "Dutiaume and Hutchins to step back from coaching roles".
  20. ^ "Flyers confirm Tom Coolen as Head Coach".
  21. ^ "Tom Coolen Team Staff Profile – Elite Prospects".
  22. ^ "EIHL Board Suspend 2020-21 Season". EIHL. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  23. ^ "No Elite League Season 2020/21". EIHL. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  24. ^ "Fife Flyers at eliteprospects.com". www.eliteprospects.com.
  25. ^ "Player of the Year Trophy". Ice Hockey Journalists UK. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 27 May 2007.
  26. ^ "Coach of the Year Trophy". Ice Hockey Journalists UK. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 27 May 2007.

External links edit