Flyers take positives from overtime win over Huskies

Shayne Stockton scored in his first match since October.
Shayne Stockton scored in his first match since October.

Fife Flyers 4 EC Kassel Huskies 3 (OT)

Fife Flyers scored an overtime victory over German side EC Kassel Huskies in their opening exhibition match.

The game was a typical preseason affair - competitive without being fully physical - as players shook off the rust from a long summer break.

While results at this stage are not all-important, it was encouraging to see Flyers claim victory against decent DEL2 opposition despite falling 2-0 and then 3-2 behind.

It would suggest that, after just a few days training, there is already a good spirit about this group.

The overall performance had its ups and down, as you would expect at this early stage.

The team lost its way in the second period, struggling to transition the puck and managing just three shots on goal, but there was a sprinkling of positives throughout the rest of the game.

Given their return to familiar surroundings, it was perhaps no surprise that Flyers stand-out men on the night were returning players.

Chase Schaber picked up a goal and the man of the match award, while Shayne Stockton also got on the scoreboard while showing glimpses of the skilful stick-handling centreman the team missed throughout his injury last season.

The new players will take time to find their feet, and will benefit hugely from a six-game preseason, but it was hard not to be immediately impressed with the stature of forward Danick Gauthier - a man whose size and speed could ruffle feathers in the EIHL this season.

Flyers used the match to ice every member of the bench, which meant shifts for youngsters Chad Smith and Reece Cochrane, while back-up netminder Jordan Marr was given the third period to impress, which he did with some key saves, particularly during a four-minute Huskies powerplay.

Despite not yet being confirmed as re-signing, D-man Thomas Muir also featured.

Flyers had some good chances early on before net netminder Andy Iles made an impression with some good stops at the other end.

An evenly balanced first period was heading towards a goalless conclusion when Huskies struck the opener with just five seconds left.

Handed a powerplay as Gauthier sat for hooking, they struck immediately through defenceman Mike Little to take a one-goal advantage into the first intermission.

Flyers fell further behind straight from the restart as John Rogl punished the space afforded to him by firing past netminder Andy Iles.

That triggered a tough spell for Fife as they struggled with puck retention, and were forced to work hard to stay in the game.

The team needed a goal to get going and Schaber provided it on 38.23 with a sharp shot to finish off a three-on-one breakaway.

Flyers were again on the backfoot early in period three as Gauthier caught an opponent in the face and was sent to the penalty box on a 2+2 for accidental high sticks.

However, some solid PK worked, backed up by netminder Marr, kept Fife in the game and they were rewarded with an equaliser on 47.11.

With little options ahead of him, Stockton launched a hopeful shot from outside the blue line that took a deflection on its way into the net via the post.

After the bad luck suffered by him last term, hopefully this is a good omen of better fortune in the season ahead for Stockton.

Flyers fell behind again with five minutes left during a spell of four-on-four hockey when Adriano Carciola wasn't picked up and scored off his own rebound despite Marr's best efforts to keep him out.

In a bid to avoid defeat, Fife withdrew Marr for the closing two minutes to go for an extra skater, and the move paid off when defenceman Ian Young launched a puck towards goal that found a way through traffic and into the net on 58.58.

The game went into an extra period of three-of-three overtime and Flyers struck the decisive blow after just 35 seconds.

Following determined set-up work by Russ Moyer, the puck fell to Peter LeBlanc who skated in from the wing and squeezed the puck past the visiting netminder at his near post to end the night of a high note, and send the Fife fans home in positive mood.

Head coach Todd Dutiaume was happy with the performance, and the outcome.

"We've only skated three times as a group, and we don't have all our systems in place, but the effort was there," he said.

"We were down 2-0 and we kept going. This bunch look like the team we thought we were recruiting, and they're only going to get better.

"The results are not necessarily important but to get the overtime winner is a good boost of confidence."

The teams met again at Fife Ice Arena tomorrow night, face-off 6.30 p.m.