Fife Flyers might yet look back on Sunday’s win over Nottingham Panthers as one of the season’s major stepping stones.
They needed to snap a four-game losing streak, and secure a firm hold on third place in the Elite League – and they did.
Evan Bloodoff netted twice in this suffocatingly tight 3-2 game which was goal-less for over 37 minutes.
There really was nothing to separate the teams until Flyers cracked Panthers with a 3-1 closing period to claim two more points out of conference.
Flyers also had to do it without key defenceman Russ Moyer who limped out of the game after landing awkwardly, while Brady Ramsay was the healthy scratch who, it later transpired, had returned to Canada to deal with some personal issues.
The best hockey came in the first and third periods – the second was something of a stalemate, as each team looked to get the opening goal.
Moyer’s injury, which came as early as the 11th minute, saw Charlie Mosey double shift, and the forward rolled up his sleeves and dug deep.
His role in the game-winning goal was also key – a ’man of the match’ award was more than his just reward.
Fife had a couple of golden chances in the opening period – Shayne Stockton appeared to have the goal at his mercy but elected to pass, and Dannick Gauthier saw one flick of the puck whistle across the face of the goal.
Panthers too had opportunities, with a lot of their play coming through new forward Luke Pither.
He set up Mark Derlago in the 23rd minute, but netminder Andy Iles was perfectly placed to block.
Brett Perlini – son of former Fife star, Fred – then twisted and turned behind the net before slamming on the brakes to tee-up Zack Phillips, and his shot flew off the metalwork.
The deadlock was finally broken after 37 minutes when Fife’s defence was dragged to one side, leaving Yann Suave with all the time in the world to flick past Iles.
Fife needed a quick response early in the third, and they delivered inside 90 seconds of the puck dropping – Liam Heelis and Jim Jorgensen fired shots on the powerplay before Bloodoff bundled the puck home.
Six minutes later they were ahead for all of 14 seconds; Bloodoff’s second, off a Carlo Finucci rebound, was immediately wiped out by Derlago.
Robert Lachowicz then made a neat move to centre ice before ringing a glorious shot off Iles’ post, but the third period saw Fife driving forward with momentum, forcing turnovers and hitting a good groove.
Their reward came with three minutes to play as Mosey drove round the back of the net and went for the wraparound. It didn’t quite come off, but defenceman Ian Young was perfectly placed to get the puck over the line, despite Panthers’ protests.
The visitors ended the game on a powerplay and pulled netminder Patrick Galbraith for a six on four last stand, but Fife’s grip on the points was resolute.
Period scores: 0-0, 0-1, 3-1
SOGs: Fife (Iles) 28; Panthers (Galbraith) 35.
Flyers scoring: Bloodoff (2+0), Young (1+0),Finucci (0+2)Heelis, Schaber (0+1), Mosey (0+1)
Panthers Scoring: Sauve, ,Derlago (1+1), Luke Pither (0+2)