Fife Flyers 9 Edinburgh Capitals 3
It will take more than a rout of a dispirited Edinburgh Capitals side to jump start their season - but for now at least, Fife Flyers are back up and running.
After a wretched run of one win in nine - and just three points from a possible 18 - Flyers took some frustration out on the EIHL's bottom club to chalk up a desperately needed two points, and inject some confidence, in a Boxing Day demolition at Fife Ice Arena.
The result lifted Flyers off the bottom of the Gardiner Conference - a place they ought never have been in the first place given their title aspirations - and put a stop to seven straight conference losses.
The key to this win - other than the woefulness of the opposition on the night - was simple hard work. Flyers are a better side than Edinburgh but had lost three of their previous four fixtures this season because Caps wanted it more. That wasn't the case last night.
Captain Ryan Dingle again led by example - a hat-trick simply putting the shine on his ever present work ethic - but this time he had a full support cast with Brendan Brooks and Carlo Finucci standing out as the whole team grafted for victory.
As has become standard, Flyers went into the match short-handed, with Chase Schaber and Sebastian Thinel joining long-term injured Shayne Stockton on the 'out of action' list to leave the Kirkcaldy side without three key forwards.
While such absences have been sorely felt in recent fixtures - Flyers bad run has coincided with a spate of injuries - there were no such repercussions against a Caps side who simply capitulated after losing Ian Shultz to injury in the opening minutes.
Flyers set the tone early on as they peppered the Caps net without reward. After a momentary lull where the game got bogged down in neutral ice, Flyers exploded onto the scoreboard with three goals in little more than four minutes putting them in firm control.
Phil Paquet starting things rolling on 8.59 as he stepped over the blue line onto Dingle's perfectly timed pass and made the most of the acres of space he was afforded to send a measured wrist shot over the shoulder of netminder Travis Fullerton into the top corner.
It was 2-0 on the powerplay after 12.53 as Flyers worked the puck along the blue line before finding Justin Fox in space in the slot and the forward finished emphatically, sending his shot crashing into the net off the pipework.
Just 17 seconds later Flyers struck again, and it was almost too easy for Finucci as he skated in from the wing completely unopposed, calmly side-stepped the netminder before slotting into the empty net for 3-0.
Caps had offered very little up until now, but they hit back almost just as quickly with Pavel Vorobyev taking advantage of complacency in the Fife defence, finding himself unmarked at the crease to beat Shane Owen on 13.29.
Flyers had been in this position before - holding a commanding early lead against Edinburgh only to be pegged back and ultimately lose the match - but lessons were clearly learned as the hosts put the pedal to the floor early in period two.
They simply out-worked Caps in their own zone and kept them hemmed in until space eventually opened up for Dingle to have a crack from the high slot and his slapshot took a deflection on its way past Fullerton for 4-1 at 24.23.
It was quickly 5-1 as Dingle determination won possession from a dithering Caps defence allowing Fox to pick out Brooks in front for a tidy finish.
A bench penalty for too many men saw Caps lose a skater for two minutes, but in a frenzy to add to their tally, Flyers left the back door completely wide open for Vorobyev to catch them on a breakaway for a short-handed goal to reduce the deficit to 5-2 midway through P2.
Not clever from Fife, but fortunately not too costly either as although Caps enjoyed their best spell of the game after the goal and up until the end of period two, they were unable to reduce the deficit further thanks to a handful of good stops from Owen.
The points were secured early in the third as Dingle struck twice in a minute. On 44.45, the forward was hauled back as he homed in on goal, and referee Alan Craig awarded a penalty shot, which the skipper duly scored to put his side 6-2 in front.
A back post tap from Dingle on the powerplay less than a minute later made it seven, and completed his hat-trick, and Flyers had an eighth on 47.39 - their third powerplay goal on the night - as Brooks pounced on Ric Jackman's rebound.
The hosts were now playing without pressure and clearly enjoying themselves - a point emphasised by Fox as he grabbed a majestic solo goal on 53.12, showing silky hands to weave through a disheartened Caps defence before producing the finish to match for 9-2.
With the game won, Flyers took the opportunity to ice back-up netminder Craig Douglas, who received a warm round of applause from the home fans as he replaced Shane Owen with five minutes remaining.
His first act, however, was to pick the puck of his net as an unfortunate ricochet off the goal frame saw Jared Staal's effort bounce into the net off the back of the unlucky netminder. Douglas showed his capabilities thereafter though with a few smart stops in the remaining time.
Flyers must now build on this result and performance away to Dundee Stars on Wednesday night.