Easter miracle as Flyers resurrect play-off dreams in Manchester

Fife Flyers players celebrate reaching the EIHL play-off finals after Carlo Finucci's overtime winner in Manchester. Pic: Mark Ferriss
Fife Flyers players celebrate reaching the EIHL play-off finals after Carlo Finucci's overtime winner in Manchester. Pic: Mark Ferriss

Manchester Storm 1 (5) Fife Flyers 5 (6)

An Easter miracle took place in Altrincham tonight as Fife Flyers came back from the dead to book their place in the Elite League play-off finals.

The team produced a resurrection of their own as they recovered from three goals down to overcome Manchester Storm in an incredible quarter-final tie.

Having lost 4-1 on home ice in the first leg the previous night, the odds were stacked against Fife making it back to Nottingham next weekend.

However, in a heroic performance, Flyers fought back with a 4-1 victory of their own to take the tie into overtime, where Carlo Finucci struck an unforgettable winner to send the large travelling support into raptures.

In a season often defined by the team's never-say-die spirit, this was the bravest comeback of them all.

After the way the match finished the previous night, with Storm players swaggering as they left the ice, Flyers needed a positive start to plant seeds of home doubt while giving themselves a platform to build from.

That's exactly what they got as Danick Gauthier opened their account in the fourth minute, a lead they held until the first break.

Head coach Todd Dutiaume had picked his team off the floor the previous night and set them a target of winning each period in the second leg.

Part one was accomplished, and part two followed in period two as Carlo Finucci reduced the deficit further just 74 seconds after the restart, before a Jim Jorgensen powerplay strike on 31.13 brought the score to 0-3, and the teams were level on aggregate.

Storm pulled one back, and reclaimed a one-goal advantage on aggregate, through the EIHL's top scorer, Mike Hammond, but momentum, and belief, was with Fife as they set about completing mission improbable in period three.

Liam Heelis duly put the visitors 4-1 ahead in the 46th minute, dragging them level on aggregate once again, and despite the referees becoming heavily involved in the closing stages, with Flyers forced to defend back-to-back minor penalties, the Kirkcaldy men held firm to force overtime.

Simply getting to that stage was an achievement in itself.

Glory, or glorious defeat were the only options now, but a sensational backhand winner from Finucci 47 seconds into overtime sent the Kirkcaldy fans wild, and the booked the club's place in their third play-off finals in five years.

Next stop Nottingham, where Flyers will have their eyes firmly on making the final two for the first time in their history.