Some games crackle with electricity, some are hum-drum and a few, like this derby, are just awful.
On a bitterly cold night, Fife Flyers and Edinburgh Capitals found themselves mired in a game of endless stoppages which sucked the life out of the hockey for 30 long, goal-less minutes.
How the officials conjured up 17 penalties, including one major, in a game devoid of a hint of rawness, was a mystery. If it wasn’t the sound of their whistle halting proceedings, then it was the nets being dislodged time after time.
Caps were short-benched – even their cheerleading squad was down to just two – and Fife were shattered playing their third game in three nights.
In the end, Flyers got the job done. They got the goals when they were most needed, seized control and finished strongly, outshooting Caps 17-5 in the final 20 minutes.
And it was a vital win to keep them in control of the conference title race and on track for a high finish in the league.
Flyers iced without the injured Evan Bloodoff and Russ Moyer, Brady Ramsay was still back home – pretty sure we’ve seen the last of him after a stint so brief he barely had time to say hello – and their problems were magnified when Dannick Gauthier was thrown out on a five plus game for a check to the head.
The 15th minute dismissal was a poor call from the stripeys, one that also removed one of Flyers’ key forwards.
Once again, individual players dug deep and skated relentlessly to get the team over the line with room to spare. Charlie Mosey was, once again, the engine which motored all night long – the unsung heo of this team on so many nights – Chase Schaber’s input was immense, and Shayne Stockton delivered two priceless goals.
This game needed an early strike to ignite it. Unfortunately it took a painfully long 31 minutes to see the red light flash as Stockton got his shot away as he slid on his knees across Tyler Beskorowany’s goal.
He had time to add a second before the exasperated officials halted the period with 3:20 to play after yet another attempt to fix the nets in place failed; Andy Iles’ frustration earned him an ironic delay of the game minor penalty as he eventually gave them a mighty shove off their moorings after a goal had been washed out.
The middle period also ended with a furious Peter LeBlanc rolling up his sleeve to show the officials a slash which had gone unpunished – he’d already hurled his glove down the bench in sheer anger, and probably, pain, at the hit.
It was only when the game re-started that Flyers found their tempo and took control.
Liam Heelis redeemed himself for scorning a fine chance to seal the game after 48 minutes – a fabulous stretch pass sending him free but he hesitated over the shot – by delivering barely 60 seconds later with a great steal off Rihards Grigors just outside the blue line to race solo and blast home the killer third strike.
Igor Valeev came closer than any other Cap to finding the net with a blistering shot from wide on the left which flew off Iles’ far post.
The metalwork ensured the shut out remained in tact.
It may have been a dog-eared game, but the result, and points, were important for Fife. One step closer to conference silverware.