Hull Stingrays 7 Fife Flyers 3
Fife Flyers head coach Todd Dutiaume was unhappy with both the performance of his team, and referee Mike Hicks, in the 7-3 defeat in Hull last night.
The match was a pivotal one in the race for the EIHL play-offs and one Flyers had to win to have any realistic chance of catching Stingrays in seventh place.
The defeat effectively leaves Flyers, with four league games left, in a one-on-one fight with Cardiff Devils for the eighth and final play-off spot.
Hull did most of the damage on the powerplay, scoring five times, as Flyers were hit with 55 PIMs including a match penalty for Matt Nickerson - his sixth of the season.
Dutiaume was disappointed that his team failed to perform in one of their biggest games of the season, but he also felt the officiating let his side down.
He was particularly angered by the decision to wipe out a Bobby Chaumont goal for a high stick while the score was 1-0 to Hull.
“By the time the penalty trouble came around in the third period we had already ran ourselves out of the game,” Dutiaume said.
“We had a number of passengers for the first two periods, then we just lost our composure in the third.
“But the big issue - and it’s extremely frustrating - is that we had another legitimate goal washed off.
“That’s two goals in the last two games by the same referee.
“I’m not making any excuses - some of our guys just didn’t show up - but when guys keep getting legitimate goals chalked off they become mentally distraught.
“It’s happened to us a number of times this year - and in big games.
“You try to keep these guys focused and going but it really sucks the life out of them and they do lose their composure.”
Dutiaume was also critical of referee Hicks’ decision to hand Nickerson a match penalty, which carries an automatic one-game suspension.
“Nickerson came out the penalty box, which he was entitled to do, there was a bit of a scrum, and he threw a punch that didn’t even connect,” Dutiaume said.
“It’s never a match penalty and even the Hull guys were telling the ref that he couldn’t suspend a player for that.
“It’s definitely something we’re going to appeal and hopefully the league’s head of discipline sees sense.
“Everyone saw a Nottingham player beating a guy to a pulp on the ground last week but there was no suspension.
“If you compare the two incidents, it doesn’t make sense to me.
“We have our players asking what is going on with the officiating in this country. Guys are beyond frustrated with it.”
There were some suggestions on social networks that Nickerson had an altercation with a fan on his way back to the dressing room, but Dutiaume stressed: “Nothing happened that we need to worry about.”
Flyers fell behind to a Guilleme Doucet powerplay goal on 7.31 but hit back to level through a Jordan Fulton powerplay effort on 16.39.
Hull retook the lead with a minute left in the first, as Omar Pacha continued the trend of powerplay goals.
Ned Lukacevic pulled Fife level with the game’s first even-handed goal midway through P2, but Hull re-took the lead almost immediately through Jason Silverthorn.
Flyers were still in the game at 3-2 down going into the third, but they played a large part of the final stanza short-handed.
After Jereme Tendler made it 4-2 on 43.16, three consecutive powerplay goals on 45.09, 47.58 and 51.59 put the game beyond Flyers as Tendler secured a hat-trick and Sylvian Cloutier got in on the act.
Flyers grabbed a last minute consolation through Kyle Haines.
Despite the defeat Flyers still have their play-off hopes in their own hands as they sit two points behind Cardiff, but have a game in hand.
“We’ve still got our eye on the prize,” Dutiaume said. “We haven’t played as well in our last two matches as we have in the last few months, but no-one is pressing the panic button.
“We have four games left, Cardiff have three, and it’s going to be a big battle.”