Fife Flyers rediscovered their mojo tonight, and delivered their best performance since the opening weekend of the season – as well as a vital win.
Despite icing just two lines and rolling only four defencemen – David Turon and Ric Jackman were both out injured – they dug deep for a gutsy and thoroughly deserved 4-1 win over a Coventry Blaze side that has lost its way in recent weeks.
There were some huge individual performances across the bench as Fife grabbed this game by the scruff of the neck in the second period and carved out a lead they simply refused to surrender.
Ryan Dingle’s goals were vital and his contribution immense, while Russ Moyer was simply a rock on a blue line in which Phil Paquet, and Brits Tommy Muir and Chris Wands grafted all night long to form a solid unit in front of a solid looking Shane Owen.
It was Moyer who drilled home the opening goal – a low shot from inside the blue line on a PP - at 7:17, and it was an OG by Chase Schaber which levelled the game one minute later; the forward pretty much helpless as he skated towards his own goal only to see the puck go in off his stick with Owen committed.
The stalemate of the opening period was simply crushed when the teams returned to the ice.
Fife got into a groove and skated relentlessly.
The break through came on the half hour as Dingle made a great play and dragged the puck round a committed Brian Stewart to hit the net.
Two minutes later he struck again with a perfectly timed move to skate on to Sebastien Thinel’s pass off the back boards and bury a shot past the exposed goalie.
Blaze called a time out, but the momentum of the game had turned against them as Flyers started to carve out some tempting chances while working overtime in their own zone to shift bodies, clear pucks and set up counter attacks. Blaze’s finishing simply deteriorated as the game progressed.
Thinel made it 4-1 at 46:43 with a flick from wide on the right which seemed to catch Stewart cold, and the sense of unity in Fife’s ranks was underlined just one minute later as players came together in a shoving match. Brendan Brooks peeled off with Jordan Pietrus and simply nailed him in the fight that brought the fans to their feet.
As he headed to the bin to sit for five, Brooks dusted his hands as if to say ‘job done.’
And it was.
This was the win Flyers needed after two difficult weekends, and the manner in which it was delivered, delighted head coach Todd Dutiaume.
It was, he admitted, the best way to answer their critics, but added: ‘‘We made some changes and we skated the way I want us to. That’s the team I recruited and that’s the team I know I have.
‘‘Everyone did their jobs tonight. Credit to the four guys in defence, while our two centremen were good and our wingers skated all night.
‘‘And they played they way they should do in front of Shane.’’