Fife Flyers’ hopes of a four-point weekend were thwarted by smart thinking Guildford Flames tonight.
The old BNL rivals met up after a 12-year absence, with the southern team skating to a 5-3 victory.
The teams proved to be very well matched – their head to heads will be interesting to watch this season – and it was a night when even the smallest, individual errors resulted in goals.
Fife made more than Flames, and paid the price.
They found themselves 3-1 and then 4-2 down, but rallied to within a goal.
On another night, they may very well have taken it to overtime and emerged victorious, but, in this year’s Elite League, nothing can be taken for granted; not even against a team new to the top flight.
Flames started well. They were tight in their own zone, broke with impressive speed, and looked dangerous around the net.
They kept a careful watch on Flyers’ playmakers and in-form skaters, and demonstrated they will be no pushovers in their inaugural year back in the top flight.
The impressive Kruise Reddick returned stats of 2+2 and was very much at the heart of Flames’ win along with John Dunbar (1+2) while Liam Stewart had a highly productive first period.
Fife certainly worked hard, but didn’t create enough, and were always playing catch up. Put it down as another step on the learning curve for this young team which has started to show its true potential in recent weeks.
Flyers fell behind to Reddick’s ninth minute opener, and when he doubled Flames’ lead at 24:35 it looked slightly worrying.
His second goal summed up the night. A long-range pass out of Fife’s own zone only found the stick of Ian Watters. He set up Dunbar who couldn’t finish, and Reddick obliged, netting the loose puck.
The hard-working Charlie Mosey opened Flyers’ account at 25:58 only for Jeremy Lundin to restore Flames’ two-goal gap just after the half hour.
Then, another self-inflicted blow as Fife’s defence coughed the puck on the backboards 20 seconds from the buzzer, and Rhett Rachinski duly punished them. Suddenly a one-goal hockey game became 4-2 going into the second break. A game-changing moment.
Flyers’ powerplay unit finally found its mark after 45 minutes with Peter LeBlanc shooting home, and they stepped up the pressure big time in a bid to tie the game.
As the clock wound down they pulled netminder Andy Isles for the closing 90 seconds only to see Reddick – that man again – pursue the puck deep into the corner, and pass for Dunbar to hit the empty net.
Todd Dutiaume, head coach, said: ‘‘All five goals were from individual errors which we have worked really hard to eliminate from our game.’’