Fulton hat-trick but Flyers falter in Wales

Jordan Fulton - three goals in Cardiff
Jordan Fulton - three goals in Cardiff

Road trips to the Welsh valleys have rarely produced much to sing about for Fife Flyers.

Over the decades they have found it tough going in Cardiff, and Sunday proved no exception - despite netting five goals, Jordan Fulton getting hat-trick and Scott Fleming logging 1+4.

On another night such returns might have been good enough to take the points, but Cardiff Devils are a team on fire - this was their 11th win on the bounce, and their Big Blue Tent has become something of a fortress this season.

They took the game 8-5 thanks largely to a barrage of rubber at Kevin Regan.

With two periods gone he’d faced some 28 shots as Devils fully exploited the suspension, and absence, of Matt Nickerson in front of the net.

That gave them a 5-3 lead going into the final period - a cushion that kept the game just out of reach of a Fife side which worked hard, double shifted key players but came up just short.

Flyers actually opened the scoring at 7:48 with a booming shot from Jamie Milam, touched home by Scott Fleming.

Their lead lasted almost two minutes when Brent Walton fired home on the powerplay.

Luke Piggott then fired through traffic for 2-1 at 15:55 - Flyers were looking for a high stick call which never came.

The second period was just 70 seconds old when Flyers coughed a crucial third goal - their habit of conceding either very early or very late haunting them once again.

Jesse Mychan’s goal was the first of his hat-trick and it gave Devils a strong lead, but one Flyers scuttled with two lightning strikes.

Fulton struck twice in 30 seconds to tie the game by the 24th minute - he was one of the team’s strongest grafters on the night - his first coming off a smart play by Fleming, and his second on a powerplay after Walton went for slashing.

Devils responded on the powerplay. They failed at five on three, but, the pressure was intense and paid off as Andrew Hotham touched home at the back door.

By the half hour it was 5-3 as Haddad rang the red light.

Regan denied Doug Clarkson one on one as the big forward stepped out of the sin bin, and that save gave Fife some hope going into the second break - but they still faced a huge task.

The game was effectively won and lost early in the third as Mychan rifled a shot past Regan for 6-3 at 41:10 and then saw off the netminder with Devils’ seventh strike at 50:06.

Ned Lukacevic halted the home side’s momentum with Flyers’ fourth at 50:44, but Hotham replied on a late powerplay before Fulton got his hat-tick counter while short handed.

A tough road trip and a loss that will sting given the work they put into the game - but coming up short is starting to hurt.

They have dropped four points from two games in 2015 - and there is little in the way of a comfort zone in the race for the play-offs.

>> Matt Nickerson will miss Wednesday’s Challenge Cup quarter-final second leg tie in Nottingham - Flyers trail 7-2 - and Saturday’s road trip to Braehead. He should return for Sunday’s home game against Edinburgh Capitals.