The goal was an opening night win, but Fife Flyers found themselves coming up short against a good Coventry Blaze side in Kirkcaldy tonight.
A 1-0 defeat was as close as it gets, but it has to be said it was a comfortable scoreline for the visiting side on the opening night of the 2014-15 season.
Flyers had a good opening period, but overall, their play just lacked a little bit grit; one of the qualities which propelled them to the championship finals last season.
Snared in Blaze’s tight defensive unit they found little room to move even in the expanded offence zone, and saw too many of their big players pushed to the edges of the game where they could make little impact.
A goal may well have sparked the comeback the huge crowd wanted, but the longer this game went on, the less likely that looked.
Blaze’s six-five netminder Brian Stewart delivered an unorthodox but game-winning performance - he coughed up huge bounces in the first without being punished, roamed freely out of his goal in the second, but still emerged with a clean sheet.
Flyers’ netminder Kevin Regan was just as good, making some big saves as his defence got itself into some dreadful fankles.
He rode his luck a little - Blaze twice hitting the metalwork - but backstopped this team throughout the 60 minutes, giving them the platform to go get the game-tying goal.
For that Flyers needed a spark of flair, a moment of off the cuff genius, but with the honourable exception of Matt Reber’s selfless workrate and Danny Stewart’s drive, the lines didn’t quite click on the night.
Ned Lukacevic had a great start but faded slightly as Blaze get a tight grip on the game, and the scraps they left out weren’t enough for Flyers to work with.
The only goal came from Rory Rawlyk after 27 minutes, but Flyers had chances on the powerplay including a five on three, but it wasn’t to be.
The result left the dressing-room disappointed, but there were lessons, and postives to draw from the night.
Todd Dutiaume, head coach, said: ‘‘This was a good example of the calibre of teams we will face this season.
‘‘Our expectations were high and maybe at times we were in danger of just picking up where we left off last seaosn - but we ran into a team with a hot goalie and we didn’t have enough traffic in front of his net
‘‘Systems wise they werfe tight, and there wasn’t a lot of space out there for our big hitters.
>> Flyers travel to Coventry for the return game on Sunday.