Fife Flyers skate to a less than Storming-victory

David Brown celebrates Flyers penalty shoot out win (PIc: Steve Gunn)
David Brown celebrates Flyers penalty shoot out win (PIc: Steve Gunn)

Fife Flyers chalked up their fifth win of the new season on Saturday.

It was anything but pretty, and far removed from the high-tempo hockey which has been their trademark this season, but, bottom line, they emerged with the points.

Manchester Storm came to Kirkcaldy for the first time ever and proved to be a dangerous side coming forward, and, in sloppy, scrappy game, took Fife all the way to overtime and sudden death penalties where it took a clinical strike from Justin Fox to finally secure the 5-4 victory.

It’s fair to say had Flyers turned in this level of performance against a stronger team then they’d have been rumbled, but on the flip side,- had they turned in this performance last year they’d never have reached overtime far less a penalty shoot out.

It was a night which saw two teams cancel each other out and then settle for OT rather than risking an error which may have cost them the game.

Flyers opened with some new look lines and got the bounce early on as Shayne Stockton found the net at 4:21 after a great breakout led by Fox.

Storm’s response was instant; a sweeping move down the ice less than 30 seconds later and a neat finish from the impressive Matt Caria.

When Patrick Valcak made it 2-1 to the visitors at 10:19 Fife called an immediate time out. It was needed - the team was huffing and puffing and in danger of falling further behind through their own mistakes.

Michael Dorr, one of their stand out skaters of the night, got them level on the powerplay at 14:01 and Fox gave them the edge at 3-2 in the closing two minutes of the period.

Flyers finally wedged some daylight between the teams with a fourth counter at 22:29. Handed a five on three powerplay they set it up, kept the pressure round Storm’s net, and Fox’s pass from right to left was met with a one-time shot home by Dorr.

They really should have closed the game at this stage, but allowed a hard-working Storm to come back at them at 33:39 through a Matthew Sisca powerplay.

With netminder Zane Kalemba pulling off a couple of big saves in the third, this game remained in the balance as the clock wound down, and it was no great surprise when Storm grabbed a 50th minute equaliser. It was also no surprise that it came from Caria, their most impressive skater.

He dragged the puck beautifully between two defenceman, picked his spot and beat David Brown with a sweet strike. In that instant this game was destined for overtime.

The extra period, played four on four, threw up one gilt edged chance for Flyers - Pacquet’s booming shot from the point forcing a rebound at the back post which Stockton just couldn’t reach - and one for Storm as Caria came within an ace of finishing some great work done by Paul Phillips.

In the shoot out which followed both netminders stood tall.

The opening shooters were all blocked, although Caria may regret trying to outfox Brown as he dipsy-doodled the puck back and forth in front of the net until the goalie simply waited until he’d run out of options and scooped the puck up in his glove.

The winner came through Fox who roamed wide on the right and unleashed a rocket of a shot which flew across Kalemba and hit the opposite corner of the net. Valcak’s miss concluded the shoot-out, giving Storm one point for the regulation time tie, and Fife the win.

Flyers can - and will have to - play much better if they are to stay on course for a mid-table slot this season, but on a night like this you simply take the points and move on.

A relieved Todd Dutiaume spoke about ‘‘escaping’’ with the points, and admitted: ‘‘The four goals we lost tonight were down to our mistakes. We escaped with the points we will need to be better in Dundee tonight.’’