Flyers fail to profit in overtime defeat to Stars

Brendan Brooks on the attack in Fife Flyers overtime defeat to Dundee Stars. Pic: Steve Gunn
Brendan Brooks on the attack in Fife Flyers overtime defeat to Dundee Stars. Pic: Steve Gunn

Fife Flyers 3 Dundee Stars 4 (OT)

In order to regain ground in a Gardiner Conference title race that is Braehead Clan's to lose, Fife Flyers must not only rely on favours from other clubs, but be ready to take advantage of them.

But on a night where Edinburgh Capitals did them a huge turn with a surprise victory in Glasgow, Flyers failed to fully capitalise as they went down to an overtime defeat on home ice to a Dundee Stars side that had lost seven of its previous eight.

Flyers salvaged a point, but having regained some form in recent weeks, this was a match they ought to taken maximum two points from, which would have reduced the gap to seven points with three more meetings against the Clan to come.

Instead, the failure to fully profit only adds more weight to the argument that Clan already have one hand on the silverware.

Flyers' welcomed back Chase Schaber from injury but their over-reliance on captain Ryan Dingle was again evident - he failed to ice after picking up an injury in training late in the week - and the team missed his energy and drive in a flat, lifeless performance. Ric Jackman also missed out.

Head coach Todd Dutiuame slammed his side for showing a 'weak hockey mentality' but was glad to scrape a point on a night where Dundee were the better side.

"It's a crucial point, but we were our own worst enemy," he said.

"You think of the desperation of having your backs against the wall and potentially not making play-offs, but you have to have to same desperation if you want to win something.

"You need to have the hard work and unfortunately, that's not something we're finding on a consistent basis with this team."

Flyers got off to the perfect start, scoring after just 14 seconds through Justin Fox, and for the opening five minutes, they had Stars reeling.

But as has often been the case this season, Flyers tend to switch off when in control of games, and a lazy powerplay in the 16th minute allowed Stars to level short-handed through Felix-Antoine Poulin.

Flyers were sent straight back on the powerplay and this time they got it right with Chase Shaber setting up Fox for his second goal of the night on 18.36 as the Stars defence failed to pick him up in the wide-open slot.

That should have sent Flyers into the first intermission in the lead, but instead of keeping things tight, Flyers allowed a cross ice pass to be intercepted, and Dundee punished them as Vinny Scarsella levelled affairs at 2-2 from close range.

The second period was a grind for players and supporters alike with Flyers were hemmed into their own zone for long spells as Stars enjoyed swathes of pressure.

Marc LeFebvre's men finally made it count on 34.22 as Joey Sides finished off a neat passing move to put the visitors 3-2 ahead.

Flyers had turned the puck over 14 times in the middle period - "not a stat to be proud of" acknowledged Dutiaume - but a stoppage for a blood injury to Craig Cescon allowed the team to regroup on the bench, and grab an equaliser before the 40 minute mark.

Matt Sisca found space on the right, looked up, and sent the perfect pass onto the stick of Brendan Brooks as he crashed the net, and touched home for 3-3 on 37.05.

Flyers were fortunate to be level after a poor period two, but they were no better in the third. Mikael Lidhammar struck the inside of the post, while Shane Owen performed wonders at his back post to deny what looked a certain tap-in for Justin Faryna.

It was a struggle as Flyers held on to take the game to overtime, but Stars got the win they deserved when Poulin pounced on a rebound to score the overtime winner on 62.59.

Flyers will be without Dingle again as they travel to Edinburgh tonight, but with Braehead facing a tricky trip into Manchester, the Kirkcaldy men must be ready to take advantage with a winning performance in Murrayfield.