Fife Flyers lost out to Cardiff Devils in a a one-goal hockey game that didn’t reach the heights of the thriller these two teams served up in Wales last weekend.
Neither side put in a performance to ignite the 1700 crowd on cold winter’s night.
The rink was all too quiet for long spells as the action never really flowed. It was a night when pucks didn’t snap crisply on to sticks or the action sweep from end to end. At times, it felt a bit clunky and disjointed.
In truth, there wasn’t much between the teams which, given Devils are league champs, is a measure of how far Flyers have come.
The Welsh visitors perhaps did enough to take the points after battling back from 2-0 down to 3-2 up in a middle period which saw Fife pinned back in their own zone, sometimes of their own making too. During that 20 minutes they only managed four shots on goal which is a pretty grim stat.
They did rally late on – there was more urgency about their play in the closing ten minutes – and again had the confidence to pull netminder Andy Iles to grab the goal that gave them a lifeline as the clock wound down.
Flyers welcomed back Charlie Mosey after a fortnight on the sidelines, and he iced from the opening face-off.
And it started so promisingly as Flyers went ahead with just 58 seconds on the clock – Jim Jorgensen’s shot from the point found Peter LeBlanc unmarked front of net and he happily tipped it past netminder,Ben Bowns.
That was Flyers’ 1000th goal in an EIHL games.
Evan Bloodoff made it 2-0 after 10 minutes and things were looking good.
With 12 minutes played, the picture wasn’t quite the same.
Devils went on the counter-attack at 11:40, Andrew Lord going over the blue line and holding play up. That gave him the opening for the shot which Layne Ulmer tucked in past Andy Iles.
One minute later it was 2-2 as Joey Martin moved quickly into space to slam home a great pass off the backboards.
Gleason Fournier’s strike for 3-2 after 34 minutes was key as Devils made their move.
Fife went into the room still in a one-goal game, but still in search of the right tempo for this game.
They looked sharper on the powerplay in the third – a couple of booming shots from Ian Young - only to take a huge step back at 50:58 by coughing a fourth goal.
Iles dived to make a stick save, the puck fell loose, and, as bodies flew across the crease, Andrew Lord somehow ound the space to hit the net.
With the clocking ticking, Fife had their chances - the best coming off a superb play by LeBlanc to get Heelis in behind the defence but he couldn’t finish.
Handed a 56th minute powerplay they pulled Iles and threw everything they could at Cardiff with a six on four advantage.
No sooner had Jake Morrissette left the bin, Flyers finally hit the net - Danick Gauthier flicking home at the back post at 59:05.
Iles headed to the bench again from the face-off, and with six seconds remaining came the one golden chance - the back door was wide open but Evan Bloodoff just couldn’t get enough on the shot to force this match into OT.