Fife Flyers: Ref’s call ignites a rinkside debate

Alan Craig and fellow ref Neil Wilson discuss the Fife Flyers goal was that subsequently disallowed (Pic: Steve Gunn)
Alan Craig and fellow ref Neil Wilson discuss the Fife Flyers goal was that subsequently disallowed (Pic: Steve Gunn)

The debate over a disallowed goal at Fife Flyers match last night may have raised the wrath of the fans, but there was a more measured view in the dressing-room.

The 45th minute incident saw Flyers awarded the opening goal against Sheffield Steelers – a match they went on to lose 1-0 – and then it was washed out.

Referee Alan Craig gave the goal, but second ref, Neil Wilson, watching from a different angle, blew for a high stick.

But the decision to view footage of it before making a definitive call had fans claiming it was the wrong use of Goal Line Technology (GLT).

Not so, said ref Craig who took to Twitter to explain they were checking if Steelers had possession after the high stick.

Bottom line – the right call was made. It was a Fife player’s stick which diverted the course of the puck that opened up the net for Peter LeBlanc to score.

But, the row certainly ignited the rink, and Flyers’ forward Liam Heelis spent some time in debate with the officials after the buzzer.

In the dressing-room afterwards, coach Todd Dutiaume, made his point by referring queries to the EIHL website’s guidelines on the use of GLT, but tempered his comments.

‘’Whether it is a goal or not, the officials make the their calls and have to stick by then,’’ he said.

‘’I put a note to the EIHL the other day about players needing to concentrate on their games – the league has said in many conference calls we have to shut our mouths and let them get on with it.

‘’But the way our team has carried itself over the course of this season we have a near enough unblemished record. We don’t go screaming and yelling at refs.

‘’We may voice our displeasure on the bench but that is well within the limits of acceptability.

‘’I’m not going to start changing tack now.’’

Dutiaume has been part of the UK hockey scene long enough to know all calls even themselves out – and the bigger picture of the play-offs was at the forefront of his thoughts.

Flyers may head into the post-season short benched – their key injured players are itching to ice but a decision won’t be taken until the very last minute to give them every time to regain fitness.

In their absence, the team has stuck rigidly to its game plan, and its work ethic is key to making it to the finals weekend in Nottingham.

‘’We have one more game left in our regular season, and I can say this has been the most enjoyable campaign yet,’’ he said. ‘’It has been wonderful working with these guys.

‘’People saw us winning and it became contagious. We maybe caught a few teams out at the start of the season, but we knew early on we had a very good bunch here.

‘’’’We will prepare for the quarter-finals and I am confident this team will rise to the occasion and show us its best hockey.’’

Flyers bring the curtain down on the league campaign with a road trip to Milton Keynes on Saturday – their 12th game in 22 days; a relentless schedule that has taken then the length and breadth of the circuit.

The final weekend of action will also determine the finishing spots and seedings for the quarter-final draw.