Mission accomplished as Fife Flyers head to finals weekend

Fife Flyers capacity crowd versus Braehead Clan
Fife Flyers capacity crowd versus Braehead Clan

‘‘We’re going to Nottingham ...’’ four words that summed up mission accomplished from Fife Flyers after they scored a stunning 4-1 win over Dundee Stars to claim a place in play-off finals weekend.

They were spoken by Todd Dutiaume just minutes after the final buzzer sounded to spark huge scenes of celebration among a capacity 2700 at the Camperdown Park rink.

Flyers’ head coach knew the side which wanted it more would win. That side was Fife Flyers.

Leading 4-3 from the first leg, they produced their best 60 minutes of hockey this season to sweep aside a Stars team which didn’t catch fire on the night.

The opening period was tight and goal-less with Fife perhaps shading the chances, and also having a goal washed out as Jordan Fulton was judged to have been in the crease as he touched home a Kyle Haines shot from the blue line.

They made no fuss and simply got on with their job, with Fulton breaking the deadlock at 26:40 on the powerplay.

With half an hour gone, Haines had two shots on goal, the second flew back to him, and he spun round to tee-up the unmarked Tim Hartung to slot home - and put Fife in a very strong position.

And it just got better at 37:08 as Jamie Wilson broke free and aimed his pass to the supporting Steve Gunn only to see it go in off netminder Dan Bakala.

Each passing strike drove another nail into Stars’ hopes of making the finals weekend - the Dundee outfit never caught fire despite home ice advantage, and their flat performance surprised many.

It was all over at 44:41 when the non-stop skating of Matt Reber saw him chase the puck down the ice, burst through two defencemen and poke it past Bakala; just reward for another tireless performance from the human bullet, a man who skates for fun.

Lubo Vaskovic netted a late 54th minute counter for Stars but by then the huge Fife travelling support, which seemed to fill two thirds of the rink, was counting down to the final buzzer.

They won the tie 8-4 on aggregate and did it the hard way, winning comfortably on the road after seeing a 4-0 home lead all but swallowed up the night before.

‘‘Today was our day,’’ said Dutiaume. These guys deserved it. They were written off by everyone, but then flicked a switch two months ago, took it game by game, and this is their reward.

‘’This is a very tough place to come to win - and Dundee have rarely been beaten like that, but we came to play, and we knew all we had to do was win the game.’’

Dutiaume had said after Saturday’s first leg that the team which wanted it more would go through - and he was right.

Fife’s hunger for victory was superb as they stuck to their gamne plan with a steely focus did it..

The turning point?

‘‘It came in the dressing room in Kirkcaldy,’’ said Dutiaume. ‘‘I told them they could go out and win the game. I looked at their faces and they believed it.’’