Flyers shut out in Belfast as Challenge Cup bid ends

Blair Riley celebrates scoring against Fife Flyers  (Pic: William Cherry/Presseye)
Blair Riley celebrates scoring against Fife Flyers (Pic: William Cherry/Presseye)

Fife Flyers hopes of reaching the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup for the first time were wiped out by Belfast Giants.

The Irish side skated to a comfortable 7-0 second leg win to complete a 10-3 aggregate triumph.

Jackson Whistle saves from Fife Flyers Liam Heelis (Pic: William Cherry/Presseye)

Jackson Whistle saves from Fife Flyers Liam Heelis (Pic: William Cherry/Presseye)

It was a tough night for Flyers who iced minus the injured Shayne Stockton and then lost Carlo Finnuci on a ten-minute misconduct penalty.

They made some chances but simply couldn’t take them on a night when Giants were clinical in front of goal and skated to a second shut out over Fife this season to set up a semi-final showdown with Nottingham Panthers.

The teams started the night on equal footing after a 3-3 tie in Kirkcaldy,

Steve Saviano fired Giants ahead after an even opening few minutes, and then came a key moment at 11:02 as Brendan Connolly sat out a minor call.

His side killed the penalty and he jumped back on to the ice to snap on to a stretch pass which left Fife stranded. Connolly drove the net and beat Andy Iles with a great finish.

Flyers forced a big double save out of netminder Whistle, but they were to rue their missed opportunities early in the second period.

The next goal was a key moment, and it went Belfast’s way as Blair Riley netted off David Rutherford’s pass from behind the net.

Flyers responded well and ramped up the pressure on the powerplay – Liam Heelis saw the puck land at his feet but just couldn’t get it past the netminder and Giants simply went back on the offensive with a smart move which set up Jonathon Ferland for 4-0 after 34 minutes.

Whatever slender hopes Fife had of rallying rested entirely on an early strike at the start of the third period. Instead they were 5-0 down within four minutes – they survived Steve Saviano’s solo skate while short handed, but when he got the puck again, it was to lay it on a plate for Colin Shields to net.

A sixth goal - a rocket from Rutherford - saw Iles make way for Jordan Marr for the final 11 minutes.

He was beaten once as Giants declared at 7-0; Rutherford turning a playmaker with a pass to Murphy for a neat finish.

Flyers’ big test now is to rest up, shake off the lingering pain of this defeat and rally for Saturday’s home game against Edinburgh Capitals.

They need to assess Stockton’s injury too, with fans looking for news of possible cover to ensure the club’s fantastic campaign isn’t de-railed by tired legs.