In one goal hockey games there is no room for passengers.
You have to show up every shift, make the plays, take the big checks, lay your body on the line and ride the shifting momentum throughout the 60 minutes.
Tonight’s game in front of a near capacity crowd was intense, almost suffocatingly so at times, as Fife Flyers and Braehead Clan locked horns.
It was physically and mentally tough too as the scoreboard remained welded to 0-0 for 35 long minutes.
Braehead looked solid, finished their checks, played the body and gave Fife’s forwards no peace all night long - and in truth the better side won, but that 2-1 margin of difference wasn’t huge.
‘‘We had a couple of passengers out there tonight,’’ said a frustrated coach Todd Dutiuame. ‘‘‘’That’s the difference in these close hockey games.
‘‘It seems that if a magical play doesn’t happen this team does not fire - we can’t keep doing that. We have to do what it takes to win hockey games. We need that consistency and we are not getting it.
‘‘Every time we play Braehead it is a tight, tight game and that is the way it is going to be for the rest of the season.
‘‘And if we are going to slide down the standings to eighth then that is not acceptable. If it isn’t working then we have to consider our options.
‘We also have to look at ways of winning one-goal hockey games - everyone says the right things in the dressing-room, but they have to do it on the ice.
‘‘It’s time to be accountable for their actions.’’
It was easy to see where Dutiaume’s frustrations came from - a hockey game that was goal less for over 35 minutes, one which Flyers were always in, but which they never truly got a complete grip on.
Their only real momentum came in the third after they drew level, and again towards the final buzzer when they ramped up the pressure on the Clan goal.
They had some great chances - Haines rattled the metalwork, Chaumont saw a half chance come off the outer base of the post, and the forwards had some great openings only to encounter netminder Kyle Jones every bit as solid as Kevin Regan at the opposite end of the pad.
In a one-goal game, every missed opportunity can come back to haunt you.
Clan looked sharp in attack - and the stand-out performance of Stefan Meyer highlighted that edge. He chased every puck, closed down defencemen, forced them into errors, rattled the metalwork, and carried a threat with every shift.
And he still finished without a point, or even the MoM award!
Clan spent the best part of the opening four minutes on the powerplay as Reber went for hooking at 1:43 and then Stewart for unsportsmanlike conduct - he kicked Jeff Smith’s stick away after they tangled - at 3:54.
Flyers endured, and came closest to opening the scoring at 9:54 as Jordan Fulton set up Bobby Chaumont at the back post. He was off balance as he went to shoot, but still got enough on the puck which came off the base of the pipes.
The stalemate from the first period drifted deep into the second which faced-off with Matt Nickerson and Chris Frank lining up side by side and for a spot of noising up which came to nothing.
Chris Auger had a great chance to net before Clan broke the deadlock at 35:43 - Derek Roehl’s pass from the left opening the defence for Leigh Salters to one-time home.
That sparked the home fans’ teddybear toss - hundreds of soft toys being thrown on the ice, resulting in a delay to pick them up. A great idea, but one that ought not to have intruded into the game time.
Flyers started the third on the powerplay and were handed a five on three advantage when Frank went for tripping - and the specialist team delivered, Auger netting at the back post.
The goal gave them momentum and a spark, but one that was spiked just three minutes later on a delayed penalty call. With Jones gone, Clan surged forward, and Frank turned the puck home from close range at 44:35.
With the clocking ticking, Fife started to skate with real urgency, and, again had chances to tie it up - none more so than when Auger’s great work on the boards set up Reber for a shot, followed by a screamer from the point from Kyle Haines which ricocheted off the metalwork.
With 1:06 to go they pulled Regan, with 43 seconds left they called a time out as they forced the play round Clan’s net but the one-goal margin stood; the smallest gap the difference between a point, and defeat.
Much depends now on how Fife respond at home to Sheffield on Sunday.
Dutiaume’s telling point this week was the challenge of going from being a good team to a great team.
The step up can either from within the dressing-room or from outwith ...