Flyers put on a show to extinguish Flames

Ian Young celebrates after putting Fife 5-1 ahead. Pic: Jillian McFarlane
Ian Young celebrates after putting Fife 5-1 ahead. Pic: Jillian McFarlane
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Fife Flyers 5 Guildford Flames 3

Fife Flyers put on a superb show at Fife Ice Arena last night as they overcame high-flying Guildford Flames for the second time in a week.

The EIHL newbies have proven more than a match for most teams at this level in their debut season, and arrived in Kirkcaldy sitting a lofty third in the table.

But Fife are a team in form - last night made it eight league wins from nine - and they played with a level of confidence and flair that blew Guildford away inside two periods.

And while the visitors made a decent fist of mounting a comeback from 5-1 down, Flyers showed their gritty side to see the game out in the third period, and claim another notable result in what is proving to be a December to remember.

Head coach Todd Dutiaume was delighted to level the season series against Guildford following two defeats earlier in the campaign.

"The guys knew they had to be prepared and we had to battle hard right to the end," he said.

"I actually quite like that Guildford team. They skate well, are disciplined, and tough to play against.

"They are definitely a force to be reckoned with in this league but we're now two points behind them and chasing them down.

"It was another good game of hockey and I thought the atmosphere in the building was fantastic."

Flyers went into the match with all 14 imports fit and available while Flames were down to 12, as well as missing the league's top points scorer, John Dunbar.

The game attracted a near 2000 attendance - something closer to the backing this team deserves - and the atmosphere was notably improved on recent games.

Perhaps the message is finally getting through that this Fife team is worth watching.

The players certainly responded as they opened up a 3-0 lead in a pulsating first period.

The Gauthier, Mosey, Schaber first line terrorised the away defence all night long, with Gauthier's dynamic performance among the best individual displays of the season.

His omission from the man of the match poll was a talking point afterwards, but there were several candidates for the award in an all round team performance.

Play raged from end to end in a fast and frantic start, and it was Gauthier who opened the scoring on 3.29 with a goal of quality.

Mosey's set up play was superb as he held off his markers before passing to the French-Canadian who stepped over the blue line and one-timed a fierce slapshot past Chris Carrozzi before he could even move.

Flyers were fortunate to hold onto their lead moments later as Ian Watters stepped into chasm of space in front of the net and rattled a shot off the goal frame.

The pace was unrelenting - on both sides - but Fife forged a two-goal lead on 13.21 thanks to the quick reactions of Schaber, who caught a rebound in mid-air to bat it over the line.

Guildford complained that Schaber's stick was too high, but after consultation with his linesman, referee Neil Wilson was satisfied that the goal should stand.

Flyers grabbed a third on 18.07 as Russ Moyer's shot was saved, then spilled by Carozzi, and Mosey was alert, sweeping the puck over the line despite being knocked to the ice.

The game was more close and competitive than the scoreline suggested, but Fife were playing with confidence and taking their chances.

Guildford pulled one back during a brief lull in the tempo, Kevin Phillips turning home a rebound on 31.53 with the home defence posted missing for once.

The Fife response was emphatic as Carlo Finucci restored the three-goal lead almost immediately, skating in from the wing and sending a sweet wrist shot inside the far corner of the net.

It became 5-1 on 38.07 with defenceman Ian Young once again showing his finishing prowess with his 10th goal of the season, skating onto Finucci's chipped pass to go in the clear and finish with nonchalance.

Guildford were being out-scored by not completely out-classed and they started eating into the Fife lead in the third period with Watters shot leaving Andy Iles unsighted on 43.29 before the same player got a tip on a shot on 55.45 to reduce the deficit to 5-3.

That led to an uncomfortable ending for Flyers who had to defend against a six-on-five, and then a six-on-four, as the visitors withdrew their netminder for an extra skater.

Flyers missed several chances to hit the empty Guildford net, but they were able to see out time and register another significant victory to send one of their biggest home crowds of the season home in buoyant mood.

The team will hope to finish off the year in style with another two points in the traditional Hogmanay clash at Edinburgh Capitals this afternoon. Face-off at Murrayfield is 4.00 p.m.