Fife Flyers jeered off after dramatic penalty shoot out ends in defeat
If Fife Flyers want to be considered as credible title challengers, they will need to start showing up every night.
A one-point weekend from their double header with Dundee Stars needs to be a wake-up call to a team that has got accustomed to flying high.
Whitewashed in Tayside was bad enough. To cough up a 3-0 lead on home ice and then lose in one of the craziest penalty shoot outs you will ever see did not sit easily with the fans.
They were up and out of their seats even before the brief chorus of jeers had withered.
They expect - demand - much more from their hockey team.
If Flyers flat-lined on Saturday, they hit the ice bristling with effort on Sunday, and gave Stars absolutely no time to settle.
They were 3-0 up inside 16 minutes and had this game in their control. All they had to do was close it out.
Flyers iced without the injured Chase Schaber, and playmaker supreme Paul Crowder who was hit with a one-game ban after a check in Saturday’s game came across DOPS radar, but they were streets ahead of Stars.
Mike Cazzola, one of the stand-out skaters, shot Fife ahead at 2:08, and Gauthier doubled the lead turning home a Ricards Birzins shot. The Latvian defenceman then set up number three with a shot turned home by Marcus Basara.
“Period one was the Flyers team people want to see,” said Todd Dutiaume, head coach. “Maybe they thought that was enough to win it.”
There is no doubt the intensity dipped in the middle period, but Fife still held their three goal lead for 34 minutes when Drydn Dow’s rebound goal gave Stars a lifeline they could carry into the final period.
Flyers still had control. One goal was all they really needed to kill off Dundee, and, as the clock wound down to the final three minutes nothing had changed.
And then everything changed.
At 57:04, Jordan Cownie accelerated with conviction to create an opening and then drilled a superb shot past Shane Owen for the goal of the game. Momentum shifted abruptly, and Matt Bissonette shot home a rebound with the netminder committed to tie the game and take it into a cagey three on three overtime period.
When the deadlock remained, it was on to a shoot out which spanned two rounds and 23 shots.
Dannick Gauthier had a sublime deke of the goalie, and then the turning point as Marcus Basara saw Stars’ goalie Pontus Sjorgen throw out a leg to make a stunning pad save and deny him the winner.
The netminder clearly over-stretched and took his time getting up before departing to the dressing-room for treatment.
That threw back up, Craig Holland, into the thick of the action with no time to warm-up.
He denied Joe Basaraba, and when Charles Corcoran netted at the other end, Fife needed Evan Bloodoff to score. His shot pinged the metalwork, and Stars celebrated a remarkable win.
Dow got their MoM award, but the team pushed Holland - known to all as the Sheepdog - forward to collect the honour.
By then, Flyers fans were flocking to the exits.
There was little Dutiaume could say to gloss over a painful night.
“We had guys who played their hearts out and logged incredible minutes, “ he said, “but there were some selfish and non-committed plays also in there.
If we play the right way it works. When we do not, we become a sub-average team.”
The wake-up call has been delivered.