Fife Flyers clinch Challenge Cup quarter-final slot with 5-0 win over Dundee Stars

Fife Flyers booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup with a solid 5-0 whitewash of Dundee Stars on Hallowe’en.

Sunday, 31st October 2021, 10:24 pm

Their route into the late eight may have been torturous, but they delivered when it mattered.

Only one of the nine starting teams across three qualifying groups was eliminated - this really is a shambles of a tournament crying out for a complete re-think - and Fife avoided that fate despite being shut out once, only scoring one goal in three games, and two in two others.

Despite that, they gathered sufficient points to leave Manchester Storm on the outside looking in, and qualification will surely do wonders for the self belief of this roster which is still in urgent need of improving.

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Matt Carter celebrates his goal for Fife Flyers (Pic: Jillian McFarlane)

The game against Stars was wide open with both sides guilty of dreadful mistakes and chances not taken - Flyers played themselves deftly out of trouble in their own zone, even if most of it of their own making, and found their range in front of goal.

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Netminder Shane Owen stoned Stars’ until the team clicked, and as the goals dropped, their confidence grew.

Flyers took a 1-0 first period lead with a goal in the opening 2:30 minutes - one down largely to the tenacity of Craig Peacock who dug relentlessly behind Stars’ net before setting up Matt Carter to score against his former team.

James Isaacs pictured during warm up ahead of Fife Flyers' game against Dundee Stars (Pic; Fife Free Press)

Stars had chances, but they were turned over just as often, and the game was effectively put beyond their reach with two goals coughed in the second period.

The second was a Hallowe’en horror as a Dundee player had an air shot, and Flyers pounced, with Scott Jamieson setting up the tireless James Anderson to sweep the puck home.

And, with perfect timing, they made it 3-0 just as Dundee were looking to get back into the dressing-room.

On the powerplay and with 15 seconds on the clock, defenceman Erik Naslund dropped a sweet wrist shot from just inside the blue line, through traffic and into the back of Adam Morrison’s net. Game over.

Mike McNicholas added a splendid fourth at 43 minutes, taking a pass from Greg Chase, dragging the puck past a defenceman, and ringing the red light, and Immants Leskov sealed the game with a fifth in the final minute.

There was even time for a late fight as Stars’ Spencer Dorowicz took exception to Jonas Emmerdahl’s perfectly decent mid ice hit on Charles Combs, and instigated a fight down in the bottom corner.

Both players were thrown out, Emmerdahl departing to a standing ovation.

A competition which started in turmoil delivered an outcome few could have anticipated – sometimes those breaks can help to shape a team.

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