Fife Flyers’ devilish problem with a powerplay & a buzzer

Action from Fife Flyers v Cardiff (Pic: Fife Flyers/Sarah Deighan)
Action from Fife Flyers v Cardiff (Pic: Fife Flyers/Sarah Deighan)

Will someone from Fife Flyers organisation please go to the shops tomorrow and buy a buzzer? The loudest one in stock - one that would summon ships berthed in the off Ravenscraig.

To lose yet another goal bang on the end of a period is beyond belief. How many times did it happen last season? Fast forward 12 months and players and the ref are supposed to still listen for a whistle while all hell is letting loose around a crease where bodies are crashing and colliding in a last-gasp powerplay. Might as well use a dog whistle for all the effect it has.

Fife Flyers and Cardiff Devils should have gone in at 0-0 after 20 minutes of keenly contest, free skating hockey filled with the crunching sound of players being checked into the plexi and the boards. It was great stuff to watch; few chances but plenty of grit and effort all round.

The goal at 20:00 - eventually given to Leigh Salters only after period two had started - effectively saw team talks torn up, and the momentum of this game shift.

True it was certainly not the sole reason Flyers lost 3-1. Their powerplay stank the rink out - stats of 0/6 say it all - and they were effectively frozen out in the third as Devils kept a tight control of the game. Goodness knows how many players are still counting the bruises after being bumped around the rink like dodgem cars.

The better team won, despite being restricted to just 16 shots on goal, underlining how well they drove the net and took their chances. They played gritty, they were physical and they were relentless. That’s why they lead the league.

Sure one goal may well have been kicked in - the fans at the curling bar end are adamant one was off a skate rather than stick - but them’s the breaks you don’t get on a night when you have to dig deep every shift and find an edge to overhaul your opponents.

In truth, Flyers played better in Braehead than they did against Devils. At home, you could sense the grimness settling around the rink and the pad as Devils stayed in their faces all night long, and referee Alan Craig kept his arm down.

And yet, once again, they still created chances - great wide open ones which, on another night, might well have yielded the goal that would have ignited the team. TJ Caig and Michael Dorr worked tirelessly while Danny Stewart noised Devils up all night long, but a few players didn’t stand out, and at times, the team struggled to break free from the shackles.

Devils gave them no breathing space. Trevor Hendrix monstered them around the net - a huge, intimidating presence who did a hell of a job guarding his net, while Joey Haddad’s elbows flew higher and higher with every check he barrelled into, but, again, he was hugely effective.

With Salters opener turning this game in period two, Guillaime Ducet’s second on the half hour was a huge blow to Fife.

Five powerplays had come and gone - a wastefulness that has to be resolved - before they cracked open their account at 35:19; Stewart throwing the puck across the goal to the back door where Dorr slammed it home.

And at 2-1 they were still in this game - one goal hockey matches can be turned in a single shift - but as they pushed and pushed for a GTG the door was open to a counter attack and they were eventually caught them out; Salters down the right and teeing up Tomas Kurka for the finish with a flick into the roof of David Brown’s net with 11 minutes to play.

The closing moments saw Brown pulled and a time out called, but it was all too late as the league leaders closed it out to make it four wins in a row.

For head coach Todd Dutiaume, the challenge is to halt the slide quickly - that’s three losses on the spin in a tough league with little room to breathe let alone pause and regroup.

He accepts his powerplay is not firing and that needs to be addressed.

‘‘No excuses for the last three games, but we have a fantastic group of guys who have to stick with this and believe in themselves,’’ he said. ‘‘We’re badly in need of some wins, and the guys deserve that - if they didn’t then I wouldn’t stick up for them as much.

‘‘Tonight was a tough one to take. We are having a hard time getting over the finishing line.

‘‘Tonight we restricted the league leaders to just 16 shots - the days of teams coming here and logging 55 shots are gone - and that ought to be getting us results, but it isn’t happening just now. ‘‘

The goals will come - this is the same team that hosed Coventry 6-0 and started the season with some great high tempo hockey,but ultimately if they don’t then the wins won’t come either and then Fife face a very different and difficult set of decisions down the line.

Flyers head to Nottingham on Sunday for what promises to be a tough match. A three-loss weekend would be tough to take - but avoiding it is going to be a real test of character.

They’re in need of a break, so while they’re heading down the M6 maybe someone at the club can go get that buzzer ...

FINAL SCORE: Fife Flyers 1 Cardiff Devils 3

Fife Scoring: Michael Dorr (1+0), Danny Stewart (0+1), Nicolas Rioux (0+1)

Fife Man of the Match Danny Stewart

Cardiff Scoring: Leigh Salters (1+1), Guillaume Doucet (1+0), Tomas Kurka (1+0), , Joey Haddad (0+1), Zach Hervato (0+2)

Cardiff Man of the Match: Trevor Hendrikx

Shots on Goal: Fife (Brown) 16; Cardiff (Bowns) 29