Flyers dominate Stars to maintain winning start in conference

Flyers celebrate Peter LeBlanc's powerplay goal which put the team 2-0 up. Pic: Steve Gunn
Flyers celebrate Peter LeBlanc's powerplay goal which put the team 2-0 up. Pic: Steve Gunn

Fife Flyers 5 Dundee Stars 1

Fife Flyers kept up their winning start in the Gardiner Conference with a commanding 5-1 win over Dundee Stars.

A strong, skating performance ensured Fife were the dominant side from almost start to finish, with Dundee only briefly threatening a comeback from three goals down with a short spell of pressure early in the third period.

Stars, who were missing four players through injury, looked a shadow of the side that reached the play-off finals weekend last season, while Fife were also missing key man Charlie Mosey, injured during the week in training.

That provided a chance for Brits to gain some ice time that has been rare in recent weeks with Josh Scoon rewarded with a goal, and teenager Chad Smith making a welcome appearance. Chris Wands also returned from injury, wearing a protective full-face helmet.

After their troubles making the extra man count in recent games, most encouraging for Fife was a more productive powerplay, scoring three times from eight opportunities, although it took them some time to warm up after a slightly stuttering first few attempts.

Head coach Todd Dutiaume said: "The powerplay was number one on the list this week and they had to listen to a few home truths.

"We didn't change anything. It was about execution and effort levels, and they were rewarded."

A one-goal lead was scant reward for an opening period that Flyers dominated from start to finish, and which included eight minutes of powerplay.

Solid goal-tending from Travis Fullerton - Stars' man of the match despite conceding five times - and slack finishing prevented a bigger first period margin.

It took a moment of individual skill on 6.50 from Chase Schaber to make the breakthrough, as some tricky stick-handling in front of the net saw the puck squirm underneath the Dundee netminder for a powerplay opener.

Plenty more powerplay chances were squandered in the opening 20 minutes, but the special team finally clicked into gear in period two.

A controlled phase of passing and movement was much more like it, and provided an opening for Peter LeBlanc to shoot low into the bottom corner on 26.03.

The confidence injection was apparent when Fife went back on the powerplay a few minutes later, and Carlo Finucci touched Ian Young's slapshot into the top corner to finish off another fine move.

Stars were handed powerplay opportunities of their own towards the end of the period, but netminder Andy Iles looked in his comfort zone, plucking shots out of the air with an air of confidence, until Dundee struck in the final second of the period through Marc-Olivier Mimar.

It was an awful time to concede, but a great time for Stars to score as it kept them hanging on in a game they had been completely out-played, and gave them a platform from which to mount a comeback bid early in the third period.

After the restart, Mimar struck the inside of the post on the powerplay, then Finucci raced up the other end and struck the bar while still short-handed.

A defensive breakdown gave Stars a glorious chance when Jimmy Jensen was presented with all the time in the world in front of the net, but he scooped the puck over Andy Iles' crossbar.

Had that gone in - different game - but Flyers made sure of the win their overall dominance deserved when Evan Bloodoff turned home from close range on 54.49 with the first even-handed goal of the night.

The biggest cheer was reserved for the fifth goal, scored just over a minute later by Scoon, who finished sharply in front of the net after nice set-up work from Schaber.

There was room for improvement in the performance but this was a welcome return to winning ways for Fife after back-to-back home defeats to Cardiff and Belfast.

As Dutiaume said afterwards: "It was great to have my team back and playing well."

Flyers travel to Coventry Blaze tonight, face-off 5.15 p.m.