EIHL Fife Flyers 1 Belfast Giants 3

Fife Flyers logo large hi-res
Fife Flyers logo large hi-res

You won’t see a more comfortable 3-1 result on Fife ice this season - and, frustratingly for Fife Flyers, the damage pretty much came in one period of hockey.

They went into this penultimate fixture of the regular season looking for a confidence boosting win over Belfast Giants.

These two teams shared a finals weekend stage just 12 months ago, when just one goal separated them, but both have come up short this time round; Giants landing in fifth spot, and Fife struggling to catch fire.

No doubt the better team won on the night, but the fact the killer blows came within just a few minutes inside that middle stanza underline just how much the gap between success and failure has tightened as the season has edged into its final stages.

Flyers started with a real bounce. They had the bulk of the early shots on goal, Stephen Gunn very nearly capitalised on a big bounce off the back boards, Scott Fleming carved out a superb opening only to fan on the puck, and netminder Carsen Chabuk made a big pad save to deny Bobby Chaumont before Matt Nickerson stepped up.

The big defencman made a neat move from the blue line, and his sweetly struck wrist shot seemed to fly off the bar. Others insisted it went in and out, and coach Todd Dutiaume was keen to see the game tape to get a clear view.

With 16 minutes played you can only speculate what might have been had the lamp lit and Flyers had gone in 1-0 ahead.

Instead it was all square, and a Belfast side which had started to find momentum in the opening period came back out and really made their move in the second.

Two goals gave them the jump, and, in truth, they never looked like being hauled back.

They snuffed out Fife’s key players, skated with purpose, and always looked for more - they got a third, but were still sniffing after a fourth even fifth late into this game.

Evan Cheverie got the go-ahead goal on the powerplay at 23:04 as Nickerson went for hooking, and key defenceman Jeff Mason pitched in with a superb second just five minutes later.

When Fife coughed a soft third to Kevin Phillips in 34 minutes it really was game over.

They really got little change from Belfast throughout the second period, and came back out with rejigged lines, reverting back to Fulton, Chaumont and Fleming, with Reber icing with Lukcacevic and Auger.

An early goal was the spark they needed but it took until the 48th minute before they could find a route past Chubak - Lukacevic bundling home the rebound after some good work by the netminder.

Giants gave them few opportunities, however, to plot any rousing comeback, forcing Fife tom pull netminder Kevin Regan with 1:04 to go.

The cloock ran away from them, and the points went across the Irish Sea.