Fife Flyers dig deep and strike metalwork in defeat to champions Sheffield Steelers

Fife Flyers saw up close just why Sheffield Steelers are league champions as they battled hard only to go down to a 4-2 defeat at Fife Ice Arena last night.
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Tom Coolen’s side struck metalwork several times on a night when their puck control lacked the finesse needed to go toe to toe with a team that has swept all before them. Flyers ended Steelers’ season long unbeaten road record on their last visit, and this was a one-goal hockey game until the final minutes when Patrick Harper delivered a killer fourth. The better side won, but, once again, Fife dug deeper than deep, and, with a bounce here and there, could easily have tied this game and set up a grandstand finale.

Coolen was philosophical about the outcome which means the entire season now rests on the outcome of a last weekend showdown with Dundee Stars.

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“We had some breakdowns when they scored, but credit where it is due, there is a reason why they have only lost a few games. They are skilled and fast - they caught us with their speed,” he said. “Our puck management wasn't conducive at times in this game and they counter attacked and we were on our heels - but we we hit the post three times, and it was 3-2 game with two or three minutes left. We battled - we have come a long way this season. We don't have to take a back seat to any team. I am pretty proud of our guys. Nothing to hang our heads about here.”

Kyle Osterberg in action against Sheffield Steelers (Pic: Derek Young)Kyle Osterberg in action against Sheffield Steelers (Pic: Derek Young)
Kyle Osterberg in action against Sheffield Steelers (Pic: Derek Young)

Face off was delayed for an hour after Steelers’ team bus broke down, but the fans were treated to a free-flowing, back and forth, fast game of hockey which saw great chances at both ends, and some big saves.

Flyers came under intense pressure at times, only to bounce back and carved out some golden opportunities which were so close to being executed. A bouncing puck here, a deflection there - the finest of margins which stood between them and parity with Steelers at times.

Mitch Balmas saw a peach off a shot ping off Flyers post in the fifth minute, with Max Humitz casually clearing the puck from the goal-line - Humitz later saw a fabulous tip come back off Steelers’ crossbar, while Teemu Pulkinnen saw his shot also strike the post. Fine margins.

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Steelers got the go-ahead goal at 9:15 through Robert Dowd who swept up a loose puck in front of the net with netminder Shane Owen already committed.

Two minutes latter we were all square as Flyers’ pressure paid off with Kyle Osterberg tapping home at the back post, and the hosts could feel slightly narked at going in at the buzzer in arrears after a Steelers shot off off the post sparking a back post scramble, and Cole Schudra stabbed it home with barely 30 seconds on the clock.

But the killer goal was Steelers’ third at 22:49 as Scott Allen outmuscled Kevin Wehrs after coming off the back boards and flicked past Owen. Flyers kept grafting and got their rewards with a movie which flowed quite beautifully at 36:50 - Troy Lajeunesse’s pass from the right, dropped perfectly for the tireless Drake Pilon to drive the net and convert.

As the game ebbed and flowed - with Steelers having the edge - and the clock wound down, the visitors secured the points at 56:57 through Harper. A brief flurry of tired penalties left Fife with no chance of pulling a rabbit out of the hat this time. The season goes to the wire ...

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