NETMINDER Bryan Pitton played a starring role as Fife Flyers secured a penalty shots win over Hull Stingrays on Saturday night.
He made 21 saves as a closely fought match finished 2-2, and then kept a clean sheet in the shoot-out to ensure Flyers claimed the two points.
Bryan’s brother Jason scored the winning penalty shot, and the goalie revealed afterwards that he was always confident ahead of the shoot-out.
“Not to sound cocky, but I was hoping for it,” he said. “I enjoy those shoot-outs.
“Throughout my career I’ve been in quite a lot, I haven’t always won, but I enjoy it.
“It’s just you against the shooter, and I thrive on that type of competition. “
Pitton revealed that the secret to a successful shoot-out is patience.
He said: “We do shoot-outs once a week in practice and the key is to be patient.
“If you bite on one of his fakes then he’s going to go right around you.
“You have to be patient and hope that when he does commit to his move, you’re right there with him.
“Jason scored with our first shot, and that took some pressure off me and put it onto them.
“Thankfully one of their guys messed up, and with the other two I just stayed calm and patient, and it seemed to work.
“We all knew going into this game that it was one of the biggest of the year, and when it came to the shoot-out everyone knew what had to happen.”
Pitton is currently rated the fourth top netminder in the Elite League with a goals against average of 2.67 and .900 save percentage.
He puts much of his good form down to his defence, which has vastly reduced the number of shots faced by his predecessor, Garrett Zemlak, last season.
“Our defence does a very good job keeping guys to the outside,” Pitton said.
“Our rink is so big that once a guy gets to the outside they tend not to shoot.
“I’ll always have to make saves, but that’s my job. That’s why they brought me here.
“If I make 50 saves, but let in that one goal that costs us the game that’s not really doing much. I’m there to stop the puck, whether it’s 50 shots or 10 shots.”
Back-to-back Gardiner Conference wins have pushed Flyers back into contention after a recent run of nine defeats in 10.
Pitton believes the preseason objective to win the conference is still possible.
“From the beginning of the season our goal was to win the conference,” he said. “It’s still a big goal of ours and I think it’s attainable.
“We started strong then hit a bit of a bump, which was disappointing for everyone.
“We weren’t losing games by a landslide, it was by one goal which was hard to take.
“We’ve played a lot less games than some of the teams ahead of us, so if we keep winning games in our conference we’re going to move up the ladder. That’s our main goal right now.”
Pitton also revealed that he, and several other Flyers players, have been playing through injuries in recent weeks, and was looking forward to 12 days rest ahead of Flyers next match against Braehead next Wednesday.
“It’s definitely been hurting us,” he said. “There are guys playing 30 minutes a night that are injured.
“We’ve now got a good break here, and that’s going to give guys an opportunity to heal up. It will be good to relax the body and mind and work on some things we need to work on.”