Free scoring games when Metros faced Fife Flyers

Fife Free Press confirming Fife Flyers relegation for the first time in their history in 1991
Fife Free Press confirming Fife Flyers relegation for the first time in their history in 1991

By general consensus, Saturday’s game between Fife Flyers and Manchester Storm is the first ever official meeting of the clubs.

It’s remarkable that, even at the ripe old age of 78, Flyers can still find new teams and organisations to play, so we should celebrate these rare occasions. They’re special.

While Storm and Flyers are new to each other, there is a lineage we can trace back to the 1980s and then the 1960s which links ice hockey in Kirkcaldy and Manchester and Altrincham, home of the Storm.

You have to go back to another era, and another league structure, to find the last time their paths crossed - late October 1991, the Heineken League Division One.

Back them, Altrincham was home to Trafford Metros, the league’s whipping boys, and their encounters with a newly relegated Fife side bristling to secure instant promotion were pretty one-sided affairs.

The teams first met in Kirkcaldy that Autumn - it was Metros first visit to the Gallatown since their playing days as Altrincham Aces in 1987.

Flyers charged to a stunning 19-6 victory, and the stats from the game underline just how different a game ice hockey was back them.

Period scores of 4-2, 8-0 and 7-4. French Canadian forward, the classy Richard Laplante, delivered returns of 3+9, and Frank Morris 2+5 while no fewer than nine players found the net as Metros were outshot 69-44.

The crowd called for 20 goals, and the team very nearly obliged.

A young Les Millie also set a new club record for the most points in a single game - nine (4+5) - but then came a 28-3 shellacking of Blackburn Hawks at Christmas, and the stats guys simply started all over again.

Metros line up included Canadian forward Rick Fera who came up against the Fife side he’d iced with the previous season, his tenure ending with a three-month suspension after he exploded in the sin bin and chucked a chair at Durham Wasps’ Ian Cooper.

It was wholly out of character for the laid back Fera - a season of frustration coming to the boil after yet another grim night on the ice.

Fera, a prolific points scorer throughout his UK career, failed to make any impression on his return despite double shifting and switching lines all night long.

The next weekend saw Flyers head south for a Trafford/Telford double header road trip.

Any doubts they had about new venues were dispelled as they romped to two easy wins - 15-5 over Trafford, 10-5 over Tigers,scoring 25 goals from exactly 100 shots.

Again the weekend stats dazzle - Laplante 5+9, Morris 7+6, and skipper Cal Brown 0+8.

At Trafford, Morris and Laplante had nine points each as Fife took the first period 4-3, the second 4-1 and the third by a walloping 7-1.

The third game followed the same pattern and underlined the gulf between the teams as Fife won 8-2 in Altrincham despite icing just ten skaters.

It followed the now legendary road trip late night card school which prompted coach Brian Kanewischer to suspend five players - Bobby and John Haig, Les Millie, Neil Abel and Craig Dickson.

In came teenagers such as Paul Berrington and Craig Wilson - ‘Raz’ and ‘Mookie’ were the nicknames Kanewischer gave them - and the Fife machine rolled on, easily brushing aside a Metros bench that contained 19 skaters including Fera, who got one assist, and ex-Fife import defenceman Justin Butorac who got no points.

By February the card school players were back in the fold and Fife were motoring towards the title and the play-offs when Metros came calling and suffered a torturous 21-8 hammering.

Again, the stats underline how times have changed - imagine period scores of 10-1, 7-3 and 9-4 today!

Metros had conceded double figures to every single club, and every single Fife player figured on the scoresheet.

Laplante had a double hat-trick in the opening period amid his haul of 9+3. Morris and Robbo had 4+3 each, while a 15-year old Steven Lynch bagged two assists.

This weekend, a new era begins in the Fife-Manchester story.

Only one thing’s for sure - the scoreline and the stats will certainly be a shadow of those recorded 24 years ago.

>> Fife Flyers v Manchester Storm, Saturday, Fife Ice Arena, 7.15 p.m. - ticket details from the box office or www.fifeflyers.co.uk

>> For live coverage of the game on Twitter follow @fifefreepressed