Road win and a happy bus raises Fife Flyers’ spirits

Danny Stewart - a goal to mark his league record appearance (Pic: Steve Gunn)
Danny Stewart - a goal to mark his league record appearance (Pic: Steve Gunn)

Defenceman Phil Paquet summed up a key road win in Altrincham in one tweet - Well this one felt good. #happybus

You could sense the satisfaction at a job well done and perhaps also the relief at snapping a six-game losing streak that was starting to envelope the rink and team in pressure.

And Flyers were worth the win over Manchester Storm on their first visit to the new Silver Blades ice rink in the heart of an old hockey town just outside Manchester.

Backed by a great and noisy travelling support they set about their game plan with diligence and determination and found themselves 4-1 ahead in what was a near mirror of last Sunday’s game in Edinburgh - even down to the comeback which saw Storm claw the gap back to one goal.

This time, however, Flyers held their nerve, stood strong and skated out the 60 minutes for a result they badly needed.

Kyle Haines return certainly steadied the defence, but this was a night when everyone dug deep and stuck to the style which suits the club best of all.

Sure they weathered some big spells of pressure from a Storm side that looks dangerous coming forward, but they took their chances as they came, and showed no signs of that third period collapse which led to a scarring derby defeat.

Todd Dutiaume, head coach, saw it as a turning point but, perhaps more importantly, a game that saw the team ‘‘start to believe in themselves.’’

‘‘We soaked up some early pressure and then from five or six shots took a 2-0 lead. You could feel Storm’s momentum building after they came back into the game but we killed that too and everyone settled down. I thought the guys played unselfishly. They worked really, really hard.’’

Danny Stewart topped an unforgettable week in which he became a dad and broke the EIHL appearances record with the opening goal - he was the trailing man perfectly positioned to turn Stephen Gunn’s pass into the net at 9:49.

Ryan Dingle made it 2-0 on the powerplay before Patrick Valcak struck at the back door to open Storm’s account one minute before the buzzer.

The next goal was key. Fife made sure it went their way just three minutes into the middle period as Haines found the net, and they struck even earlier in the third period - 41:04 - as Stockton delivered the goal of the night.

The hard-working skater grabbed the puck and threaded his way around the pad to get himself into a good position front of net, and rounded it off with a smart finish for 4-1.

Storm kept plugging away but Fife won most of the pucks in their zone, hoovered up the debris and kept turning the game back towards the Manchester goal until the 49th minute when Davy Phillips struck at the back post and then Matt Davies made it 4-3 just a few minutes later.

That Fife held their nerve was a good test of their character, and an indication the team has what it takes to tough out a road win.

There was no panic, no real moments of concern as they wound down the clock and held on a lead that was thoroughly deserved.

There will be more thrilling wins, bigger wins and even more exciting wins too - but after six losses on the spin, few will be sweeter than this one. Just ask the #happybus that headed back up the M6...