Dundee defeat continues Flyers woeful conference form

Felix-AntoinePoulin celebrates Dundee Stars' winning goal against Fife Flyers last night. Pic: Steve Gunn
Felix-AntoinePoulin celebrates Dundee Stars' winning goal against Fife Flyers last night. Pic: Steve Gunn

Fife Flyers' woeful Gardiner Conference campaign continued last night as they were beaten on home ice by Dundee Stars.

Todd Dutiaume's men went into the match in poor defensive form, conceding 26 goals in their previous four games, while Bryan Cameron remained sidelined by injury.

They were also playing in the knowledge that a victory would have handed the conference title to Braehead Clan.

However, they made the perfect start, with a rare shorthanded double on a diabolical Dundee powerplay giving them a 2-0 lead.

But instead of taking the chance to demoralise the visitors, Flyers allowed them to fight their way back onto level terms before the end of the opening period.

Flyers second period performance left a lot to be desired as Dundee took a deserved 3-2 lead and enjoyed almost all of the pressure.

A more spirited third period saw Flyers recover at 3-3, and the hosts looked more likely to win it in, particularly when presented with a five-on-three powerplay in the closing stages.

However, the match swung Dundee's way with less than two minutes left when a broken Fife stick allowed them to break and grab a shorthanded winner.

Flyers coach Dutiaume said: "We made the perfect start then let Dundee into it. We seem to be fragile at times - when things don't go our way we seem to go into ourselves."

There was little hint of the poor night to come as Flyers blasted themselves into a two-goal lead courtesy of two brilliantly worked short-handed goals.

With Ryan Dingle in the penalty box, Chase Shaber took advantage of dozy Dundee play to skate clear and flick the puck past Joe Fallon on 3.54.

Before Dingle could return, more superb penalty killing allowed Flyers to break on Dundee again with Brendan Brooks converting at the back post after swapping passes with Ric Jackman.

At this stage, Dundee were there for the taking, but Flyers failed to press home their advantage, with the loss of two powerplay goals allowing Dundee to come off the ropes before the end of the period.

There was no pressure on Mikael Lidhammer as he reduced the deficit to 2-1 on 12.36 by shovelling the puck past Shane Owen, before Felix-Antoine Poulin levelled affairs on 18.27 with a slapshot from the point that unsighted Owen.

Flyers failed to turn up for the second period and they were outplayed by Stars from start to finish.

The visitors only managed one goal to show for their dominance, and it was a defensive error, an aimless puck chipped out from behind the goal, that allowed an unmarked Cale Tanaka to bat it down in the slot and fire it straight past Owen.

Flyers needed a wake-up call in the second intermission and they returned to the pad with more determination in the third, and it paid off on 51.18 when Chris Wands fired a puck across the crease, and a delicate touch from Justin Fox took it past Fallon.

Both sides had powerplay opportunities, but when Flyers were presented with a five-on-three with 2.23 left, it seemed the home side were in pole position to claim the victory, or at the very least secure overtime.

However, when Ric Jackman broke his stick when attempting a shot on goal, Dundee broke and Poulin climbed out the penalty box, straight onto the puck, and fired a wicked shot past Owen from the wing on 58.08 to stun the home crowd.

There was still time for Flyers to recover with another minor penalty called against Craig Cescon allowing Flyers to pull their netminder to go for a six-on-three powerplay, but they were unable to make it count.

The full-time buzzer was met by stony silence from the home fans - a quiet disapproval of a below par performance that they've seen all too often in conference matches this season. For a team that targeted the conference title, their record is simply not good enough.

Flyers now travel to Dundee Ice Arena tonight with the emphasis on salvaging something from a three-game weekend.