Fife Flyers hit six against champs Giants

SSFF 1114066 derek roehl 'Fife Flyers Derek Roehl 'shooting for the play-offs' - at the Archery Centre, Cluny Clays, Cluny
SSFF 1114066 derek roehl 'Fife Flyers Derek Roehl 'shooting for the play-offs' - at the Archery Centre, Cluny Clays, Cluny

The rink was packed with fans and legends - the perfect backdrop for a huge win over the champions, Belfast Giants.

And yet, after the buzzer the home dressing-room wasn’t rocking as many may have expected.

The job, as far as Fife Flyers see it, is far from done.

Four games, four wins is their goal to make the play-offs.

They can tick off the first of that quartet; a confident, solid 6-2 wins over the champs. Now to regroup and head to Dundee on Sunday.

Giants weren’t at their impeccable best - the absence of netminder Stephen Murphy was a huge factor - but, strangely, neither were Fife Flyers, but that shouldn’t detract from a great night of hockey which saw them rally from 2-1 down to net five times without reply. When was the last time a team did that against Giants?

In the lounge, every goal and shift had to pass the ultimate test; the scrutiny of club legends who skated across the decades from the 60s through to the 90s.

Chic Cottrell’s reunion brought many great names back to the rink where they won many championships and cups, and it’s a shame the club didn’t parade them all on the ice in front of a bumper crowd which looked much bigger than the official attendance of 1860.

There were certainly a few old-time fans back in the rink too for this most special of nights, and they were rewarded with a big home win.

Derek Roehl kick-started the night with a brilliant steal in centre ice to drive down the right and set up Ned Luckacevic for the opening goal at 4:56.

Flyers were caught on the counter attack in the eighth minute as they got sucked into Belfast’s zone, and Jeff Mason was left to tap in a pass from Jefffrey Swez.

Giants then went ahead at 14:02 with a Darryl Lloyd powerplay, but Fife replied just three minutes from the buzzer through Roehl, capping a fine start for the second line.

The second period saw them strike in lightning quick style with goals from Matt Nickerson and Bobby Chaumont by 23:30, sparking an immediate time out from Giants.

Nickerson then found himself binned on a ten-minute misconduct for squaring up to Sandrock after taking a cheap punch to the face which went unpunished - arguably one of the very few oversights from ref Tom Darnell on a night when he let the game flow with the minimum of fuss.

Flyers took the loss of the big defenceman in their stride, and when Danny Stewart spun round the net, pulled back to make the angle for himself and fired home for 5-2 at 44:25 they had the breathing space they needed.

They were looking tired as Giants applied some pressure, but the goal gave them a jolt of energy, and Tim Hartung popped up to fire the puck under netminder Dickson for number six at 52:38 on the powerplay.

In a calm dressing-room, head coach Todd Dutiaumn reflected: ‘‘We dipped our toe in the water in the first period and then came out in the second and did well.

‘‘We knew their back-up goalie was playing but told the guys not to focus on that - and remember the 18 guys also on the bench! Giants are a very good hockey team, and don’t lose very often so that made the win special.’’

Dutioaume admitted there is still work to be done with a tough troad trip to Dundee on Sunday.

‘‘Points tonight were absolutely vital - that was what mattered. In many ways, Dundee tomorrow could be even tougher - Stars heating up again,’’ he said.

‘‘The first team that blinks and drops points will probably be on the outside looking in.’’

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