One goal was all that stood between Fife Flyers and their target of a six-point weekend.
A 3-2 defeat in Manchester split victories over MK Lightning and Braehead Clan for Todd Dutiaume’s men, and those returns kept them comfortably mid-table with games in hand on the top five.
How far has Flyers’ new look, exciting young team come this season?
This weekend’s home double header against Sheffield Steelers and Cardiff Devils will be a real benchmark.
Steelers are as hard nosed as they come, carry two spare imports – as you do – and have just added Andre Devaux, a second round NHL draft pick with 500-plus AHL games and over 1600 PIMs to his name. He also has a nose for the net.
The fact he hasn’t done pre-season means he may have some catching up to do in terms of match fitness – with a game in Braehead on Friday and plans to rotate the team, it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the big ice in Fife on Saturday.
Steelers head north on the back of a 4-3 defeat at home to Belfast Giants – a match that had more than its share of flashpoints and scenes out of the wild west which may keep DOPS busy this midweek.
Steelers also whitewashed a Cardiff Devils side that has yet to fully ignite in the league – a 4-0 victory with two of the goals coming from Matt Marquardt.
Devils did pick up a good 6-2 win over Nottingham Panthers to tie Fife on ten points in mid-table.
Flyers have a game in hand, so they need to take the points from Sunday’s head to head in Kirkcaldy.
The game will also be Fife fans’ first chance to see Devils’ latest big signing Tyson Strachan; six-three tall, 180-plus NHL games and another big physical guy arriving in the EIHL.
His arrival, along with Devaux, will certainly be noted by the established enforcers. Expect a few gloves to be dropped as territories are marked and the pecking order for the top dogs is re-aligned.
Early pacesetters Manchester Storm stayed top of the table despite dropping two points to Guildford Flames in a 6-4 defeat on Sunday.
A goal blitz from Flames saw them go four-up, with Rhett Rachinski netting a fine hat-trick, before Storm rallied late on.
On the subject of stand-out performances, Riley Stadel delivered a hat-trick which included the overtime winner as his side secured a fine 3-2 road win in Coventry – a result which left Blaze coach Danny Stewart fuming.
His post-game interview saw him nail his squad to the wall, and it must have been a long drive north to Dundee for the return on Sunday – a match which Blaze won 2-1 in OT, presumably making the return journey slightly less frosty.
Edinburgh Capitals’ losing streak continued with defeat in Nottingham – a third period blitz was their downfall – and a home loss to MK Lightning, results which kept the Caps at the bottom of the table, one point behind Dundee but with a game in hand.