Dundee Stars 4 Fife Flyers 8
Fife Flyers made some amends for their poor penalty shots defeat on home ice the previous night with a resounding, if not completely convincing victory in Dundee on Sunday.
Defensive frailties were once again show in this entertaining, high-scoring encounter - particularly in a seven-goal first period where goals were simply gifted at both ends of the rink - but on this occasion Flyers found the firepower to compensate.
It turned out to be crucial win too as Edinburgh kept their playoff hopes alive with a surprise win over title-chasing Braehead, while Hull collected what may prove to be a vital point in a penalty shots defeat to Coventry Blaze.
While recent displays suggested that Flyers would crawl into the playoffs, if it all, this performance at least provided some encouragement that there may still be some spark left in the season.
This was a much more determined effort - the on/off switch had been flicked once again and a team stuck in a malaise 24 hours earlier suddenly had a drive again - albeit against a poor Stars outfit.
After a fairly low key opening eight minutes or so, the floodgates suddenly opened with seven goals in 11 minutes as both defences took a leave of absence.
Turnovers, giveaways, unchallenged tap-ins, odd-man rushes - it was a defensive omnishambles as Flyers took the lead three times, were pegged back three times, before eventually taking a 4-3 lead into the first interval.
The scoring started on 8.42 as Bobby Chaumont ended his recent rut, firing high past Marc Cheverie after a nicely disguised set-up pass from Nico Suoraniemi.
Two glaring errors were then punished at either end as Shane Lust pounced on a turnover to level for Stars on 9.14 before a Dundee pass landed straight on Chris Auger’s stick and he made no mistake from close range to restore Flyers lead just 15 seconds later.
More poor defending saw Stars level again at 2-2 as John Dolan was left in splendid isolation to tip home James Isaacs’ drive from the point on 13.37.
Flyers regained the lead two minutes later as Chaumont capitalised on complete chaos in the Stars defence to sweep home at back post, and just 60 seconds after that it was 3-3 as Flyers were caught two-on-one and Martin Cingel converted Jeff Hutchins’ pass.
Flyers went ahead for a fourth time on 19.30 as Matt Reber touched home Thomas Muir’s low blast, and with only 30 seconds of the period left to see out, they finally held onto a lead.
Defences tightened up in period two with fewer mistakes leading to fewer chances, but Flyers were setting the pace and Ned Lukacevic’s near post finish from the right wing on 27.23 put the visitors firmly in the driving seat.
With Flyers controlling the game, Stars lost their discipline in the third with a series of minor penalties eventually leading to Brad Plumton’s ejection from the game for an overly aggressive rant at referee Alan Craig.
Flyers took advantage with two powerplay goals - Lukacevic rippling the net with a fierce slapshot on 42.41 and Scott Fleming reacting quickest to Jamie Milam’s rebound off the backboards on 48.49.
Kyle Gibbons got on the scoresheet for the Stars in between, but Lukacevic’s stunning strike for his hat-trick goal, and Flyers eighth, put the seal on a well deserved two points.
It will take more than a win over the last placed club for Flyers to become serious playoff contenders, but this may provide a timely confidence boost ahead of the most important fortnight of the season. All is not lost.
For the views of hat-trick hero Ned Lukacevic pick up a copy of this week’s Fife Free Press.