Seventy-nine candles on the cake, and four points in the bag – pretty much the perfect birthday for Fife Flyers.
As the club celebrated its latest anniversary – one before the landmark 80th in October 2018 – it also moved to the top of its Challenge Cup group, tied on points with Dundee Stars but with a game in hand..
In the end Flyers were comfortable 7-3 winners against their oldest rivals.
There were times they opened up a bit too much in their own zone, giving Caps some big chances, but, they also came out with the puck more often than not, and with netminder Andy Isles looking solid between the pipes, there was never any sense of worry.
At the other end, Evan Bloodoff bagged a straight hat-trick to crack this game open, and, once the gap had been established, it was too much for Caps to overcome.
They did get back to 6-3 with 7:30 minutes to play, but that lifeline was pretty much severed when netminder Pavel Shegalo took the dumbest of penalties by tripping Liam Heelis as play swung away from his net – Charlie Mosey’s tip on a perfectly flighted wrist shot from Ian Young standing at the centre of the blue line, slammed it shut.
There will be tougher tests down the road, but Fife are starting to show more layers to this new-look team, one that remains with an import berth to fill.
There were some smashing performances across the bench tonight – Bloodoff, Mosey, Heelis and Young to namecheck but a few.
Flyers went ahead with just 1:26 on the clock with a smart bit of play by Heelis who shot the puck into the backboards, hit the turbo button to ghost past a defenceman and one-time home his own rebound.
He almost made it 2-0 at 2:50 with a great steal to set up Chase Schaber who couldn’t lift the puck over Shegalo.
Caps had chances in an open first period, none more so than Marek Tvrdon who missed when wide open.
The hosts drew level through Sergei Banashkov after 24 minutes only to fall behind again when LeBlanc hit the net three minutes later. This being a derby, Fife then coughed an equaliser on the next shift – Mike Cazzola strriking within 20 seconds.
Fife quickly got back into their stride, and the breakthrough came after 32 minutes when Danick Gauthier made a huge steal in the bottom corner, fed Moyer whose shot was grabbed by Schaber and turned into the net.
Bloodoff then showed some ruthless finishing as he let fly with a shot which struck the leg of Julius Nyqvist, flooring him. He pounced on the puck and then drilled it home for 4-2.
His next two goals came on the power play either side of the second interval, soaking up the remnants of a Moyer move for 5-2, and then striking again at 45:08 for a 6-2 advantage.
Caps’ lifeline came at 52:30 as Alexander Islamov netted at the back door, but it lasted barely two minutes until their netminder was called for tripping, and Mosey capped a fine night tipping home Young’s wrist shot from the blue line.
The win, and the performance, went down well with the coaching staff.
Todd Dutiaume, head coach, said: ‘’ If we have ambitions of advancing in this competition, it was important to get four points this weekend.’’