Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume praised his players after becoming the first Scottish side to claim a regulation win at Guildford Flames in the Elite League.
Flyers overcame the long bus journey south to claim a 4-1 win on Tuesday night but they had to dig deep for the two points, with netminder Shane Owen facing a 51-shot onslaught from the home side.
It was the perfect pick-up for Fife after a disappointing weekend, losing back-to-back games to Dundee Stars in the Challenge Cup.
Dutiaume said: “Getting off that bus after 10 and a half hours, we faced an onslaught and they tried to end the game in the first five minutes, but Owen was there to bail us out.
“We made a couple of quick adjustments and we struck late in that first period to really knock the wind out of their sails.
“To Guildford’s credit, they kept coming all night long, but being two imports short on the road, and taking out a 4-1 victory, we’re going to take it.”
While Owen picked up a deserving man of the match award for a stellar display between the pipes, Evan Bloodoff was the star at the opposite end of the pad, scoring a superb hat-trick.
“It was evident last season what Evan could do,” Dutiaume said.
“It took him a while to find his feet again after surgery, he wasn’t skating all summer, and he wasn’t working out, so he needed to get into game shape, but it shows how dangerous he is when given some space, he can bury the puck for us.
“Over the last week we’ve certainly seen what we would expect from him – using his legs and skating. I’m able to double shift him and he’s killing penalties so he’s logging an awful lot of ice.
“They take good care of themselves so fitness comes back to these guys quick, but there’s no doubting the time off affected him at the start of the season. He looks quite comfortable now.”
Bloodoff gave the visitors the lead in the 12th minute with what proved to be the lone goal of the first period, assisted by Paul Crowder; this despite Guildford outshooting their opponents 19-8.
Flames continued to dominate the shot clock during the second period,. peppering Owen with a further 18 shots, earning their reward when Calle Ackered found the back of the net to equalise.
Evan Ritt was ejected on a five + Game penalty for a check to the head which floored Jordan Buesa in the final minute of the middle period, and Flyers made the extended powerplay count, scoring twice early in the third to open up a 3-1 lead.
Mike Cazzola, assisted by Crowder and Carlo Finucci, made it 2-1 before Crowder picked up his third assist of the night when he found Bloodoff again, with the Canadian duly converting with the man advantage to put Fife 3-1 up with a little over 15 minutes to play.
Guildford continued to look for a way back into the game, opting to pull netminder Chris Carrozzi during the closing stages; but the move did not pay off, Bloodoff taking advantage of the empty net opportunity to complete his hat trick 30 seconds from the end.
Flames scoring: Ackered (1+0) Dunbar, Craige (0+1)
Flyers scoring: Bloodoff (3+0) Cazzolla (1+0) Crowder (0+3) Aarssen, Finucci (0+1).
SOGS: Guildford (Carrozzi) 24; Fife (Owen) 51.