Fife Flyers 2 Sheffield Steelers 6
Fife Flyers welcomed old enemies Sheffield Steelers to the Fife Ice Arena on Saturday looking to halt the visitor’s recent resurgence and to further their own grip on second place in the EIHL table.
The first chance of the game came on three minutes, when visiting netminder Jackson Whistle was called into action as Flyers broke with speed into the Steelers zone, and he had to be alert to make a smart save from Paul Crowders snap-shot
Seconds later, Robert Dowd had the beating of Shane Owen, but his wrist shot hit the post and Fife were able to clear the danger.
A lengthy delay to proceedings then followed as the officials deliberated with both the timekeepers and the Steelers bench over a discrepancy with the teamsheet, and when play resumed over fiver minutes later, both teams looked to have lost momentum and rhythm as they struggled to keep possession of the puck.
Flyers had a 5-on-3 PP opportunity on 14.53 as David Phillips sat for a slashing call, whilst the Sheffield bench were assessed a two minute bench minor for abuse of the official.
The hosts couldn’t make their advantage count as Whistle threw the shutters up on the Flyers attack.
Steelers thought they had opened the scoring on 21.12 but following a video review, the goal was washed out after Dowd was deemed to have kicked the puck into the net.
The visitors did break the deadlock on 23.04 when Evan McGrath lifted the puck into the empty net following some smart work behind the net from Justin Buzzeo.
Owen then had to desperately scramble the puck off the line after it was fired goalwards through heavy traffic following more pressure from the away side.
Sheffield doubled their advantage when some piercing line play from Jordan Owens and Josh Pitt was finished off in spectacular fashion by Dowd, who sniped over the shoulder of Owen on 28.05.
Steelers added a third goal on the powerplay on 30.51 as Dowd fired home a slapshot for his second of the game from the face-off circle.
Flyers finally got off the mark on 32.21 when Paul Crowder was first to react to a loose puck in front of Whistle and he poked home with aplomb to give the hosts an unlikely way back into this game.
The visitors restored their three-goal lead on 39.51 when Dowd waltzed into the Fife zone and fired an arrowed wrist shot past Owen to complete his hat-trick and leave the hosts with an almost insurmountable deficit heading into the final period.
Flyers did get the vital next goal they needed to hang on in this game, when Mike Cazzolla got a tip on Rick Pinkston's effort from the blue-line to divert past Whistle on 41.49.
Fife then had another 5-on-3 powerplay opportunity but once again failed to take their chances as Steelers mopped up the home side's lacklustre offense comfortably.
Fife had a final powerplay opportunity when David Phillips was called for elbows, but once again struggled to create clear openings and looked short on confidence whilst in possession.
The night was summed up for Fife when the visitors scored a fifth goal on the shorthand when Pitt finished off a swift counter-attack, which saw Pinkston ejected in the aftermath for abuse of the official.
The scoring was rounded off on 56.46 when Dowd fired home his fourth of the evening past Owen to put the icing on the cake for Steelers and to complete a miserable night for the home side.
Flyers boss Todd Dutiaume was far from impressed with his team's display, and felt that consistency once again was the deciding factor.
“It was quite clear early on that we had a large number of players looked disinterested at times tonight,” he lamented.
“I feel we are sometimes more content to stay on the outside of games and hopefully make something happen in the third period.
“When you come into a game ready to just go through the motions, it becomes really hard to switch on."
Dutes also said he was looking for an instant reaction from his team when the take on Nottingham Panthers this afternoon.
“We know what we will be up against, they have an immense amount of talent in that line-up, and if we dip our toe into the game, like we tend to do, the game could be over before it begins” he added.