No focus & no excuses for woeful Fife Flyers

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Fife Flyers may yet look back on this evening as the moment their play-off hopes went up in smoke -and they have no-one to blame but themselves.

Hull Stingrays came to town with just 13 skaters and one goalie and eased to a thoroughly deserved 3-1 win which was greeted with sheer, utter indifference by a home support which had to sit through one of Flyers most muddled performances of the season.

Their task was simple - go out, and exploit Hull’s limited personnel. Roll them on the boards, hit them hard and often in mid-ice, put them under relentless pressure and then finish the job as their legs turned to stone.

Flyers did none of that. Nowt.

You could have counted the big hits on one hand and still have enough fingers free to indicate two pints to the barman during the second period break.

They lacked any real, clear focus, were turned over so often it was embarrassing, failed to create more than a handful of decent chances, and those that they did were dealt with superbly by sole netminder, David Brown.

In short, Flyers got what the deserved - and the impact of this result may well ripple through the closing fortnight of the regular season.

For a team shooting for the play-offs this was - in a nutshell - utterly woeful.

The opening period saw Flyers log just three - three - shot on goal on home ice. In a word, unacceptable.

By period two the tally had reached 12, underlining the paucity of imagination, movement or cohesion in front of the net. Defensively it was just a guddle.

On a night when few, very few, players were above criticism - Jordan Fulton, Scott Fleming and Kevin Regan to name but three - one moment summed it up.

At 23:20 Stingrays’ defenceman Jamie Chilcott took a hooking minor, followed quickly by Omar Pache wwho ent for cross-checking.

Five on three for just over 60 seconds, Flyers fashioned one solitary chance as Ned Lukacevic tested Brown with a tasty shot. The puck fell to Chris Auger, and the netminder stood up superbly to complete a double save.

Back to five on four, Hull did what they’d threatened to do all night - they scored; the tireless Carl Lauzon netting short-handed. It was no more than their performance deserved.

At 28:17 more evidence of Flyers lack of focus as Jamie Wilson took a run and hit a player on the boards for a silly charging minor. Flyers killed the penalty but by now their game plan had zero shape or sense of purpose.

Kyle Haines did make a brilliant intervention to deny Lauzon a second Hull goal just before the Fife side hauled themselves back to level pegging at 36:29 - Bobby Chaumont throwing the puck into the crease from wide on the right, and Scott Fleming instinctively getting a good tip on it to turn it into the net.

I can only assume backsides were booted across the dressing room during the break - Flyers needed to come out and dominate from the start of the third, but they continued to skate with no cohesion whatsoever, and it was absolutely no surprise to see Stingrays grab the go-ahead goal through yet another turnover.

Jordan Mayer led the two on one break and didn’t need the support of his wing man as he rifled a sweet shot past Regan at 47:12

With grim inevitability Flyers went into the final two minutes with one card to play - pull the netminder.

Regan went with 1:36 to play, and with 20 odd seconds remaining Hull came out with the puck and kept control of it down the ice to allow Cory Tanaka to hit the empty net.

The generous applause for Hull Stingrays as they left the ice was in stark contrast to the near silence as Fife did a lap of honour that was as half-hearted as their performance.

Both teams got what they deserved tonight.

Flyers now have a fortnight to salvage their play-off place.

It comes down to how much the players want it.

They’ve put themselves into this ridiculously vulnerable position. Now they must figure out an escape plan, otherwise their season is stone dead in two weeks time.