Fife Flyers 5 Dundee Stars 1
Fife Flyers made it three wins out of three on home ice this season with this Challenge Cup victory over a disappointing Dundee Stars side.
Despite being outshot 21-24, due mainly to an uneven penalty count, Flyers were always a few steps ahead of the visitors with assertive play and clinical finishing ensuring a comfortable margin of victory.
The key to the win, however, was Fife's impressive performance on the penalty kill as they completely snuffed out Dundee's five powerplay opportunities, while also bagging a short-handed goal, to avenge their 7-5 defeat on Tayside a fortnight ago.
Head coach Todd Dutiaume said: "We wanted to give a much better performance than the last time against Dundee.
"The troubles we got into early on were as a result of our own errors, trying to stuff pucks through the middle, and not executing the routes that we're supposed to.
"But the guys settled into the game, and once we got the lead we never looked in danger of giving it up."
Flyers welcomed Chase Schaber and Sean Beattie back from injury, giving their frontline a healthier look, but Shayne Stockton just missed out and is expected to return next week.
A positive first shift from youngster Chad Smith helped set the tone as he collected a pass on his tape, skated the length of the pad, then got a good shot away that forced Travis Fullerton into a save at his near post.
The opening goal arrived on 3.17 as man of the match Charlie Mosey, a workhorse all night, won the puck deep in the Dundee zone, before skating out from behind the Stars net and sending a shot on the turn beyond Fullerton from a narrow angle.
Instead of building on their positive start, Flyers allowed Stars to gain a foothold in the game with a series of messy shifts, and netminder Andy Iles was required to make a point-blank save to deny Tyler Brickler after Russ Moyer and Thomas Muir were caught tracking the same man.
Flyers also ran into penalty trouble, with Moyer and Ričards Birziņš sin binned for minors in quick succession, but it was during the second Dundee powerplay that Flyers stretched further ahead thanks to a short-handed goal from Schaber on 15.12.
Moyer won the puck in the Fife zone and chipped it off the boards and down the ice for Schaber to chase, and the forward showed no ill-affects from his recent injury as he sped away from the chasing Dundee defence and slipped the puck through the five-hole of Fullerton for 2-0.
Flyers made it three in the final minute of the opening period as they showed Dundee how to capitalise on the powerplay with Ian Young flicking an effort towards goal that took a deflection on its way into the Stars net.
The 3-0 scoreline at the end of the first period slightly flattered the home side, and more penalty calls against Fife meant Dundee were on the front foot again in period two but aggressive penalty-killing not only kept them out, but also led to more short-handed opportunities on the break.
Stars eventually made the pressure count, albeit even-handed, when Jordan Cownie slapped the puck beyond an unsighted Iles on 35.30.
Dundee may have sensed a comeback but Flyers put those notions to bed in the final minute of the second period when Schaber grabbed his second of the night with a true sniper's finish, combining power with accuracy as he swept Carlo Finucci's pass into the bottom corner of Fullerton's net.
There was still a period to go, but the contest was over.
Flyers had complete control of the third period, and when the fifth goal arrived via Liam Heelis' close range backhand finish on 49.04, that was the cue for back-up netminder Jordan Marr to replace Iles, who appeared to slightly injure himself moments earlier making a sprawling save.
With another big game in Edinburgh tomorrow night, this was a sensible move from the Fife coaches to protect their starting goaltender.
With Dundee seeming to accept their fate, Flyers were able to play out time confidently and make it two wins out of three in the Challenge Cup.