Fife Flyers saw hopes of points from their Belfast journey dashed by the narrowest of margins tonight.
They went down 2-1 to Belfast Giants to wrap up their Irish double header with zero from four, and now face an unscheduled extra night in the city after ferry sailings were cancelled.
Both teams went into this double header in need of wins, and performances.
Giants had seen their title race de-railed somewhat and were under pressure, while Fife wanted points to keep the pressure on a stuttering Nottingham Panthers in the race for third place.
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A one-goal defeat underlined the fine margin that separates progress from setback – one Flyers need to close, and eradicate, if the team is to push for play-off success this spring.
Flyers went into Saturday’s game with Marcus Basara back in the line-up, and Brett Bulmer the healthy scratch.
There was little between the teams for most of the game.
Fife looked better than they did in Friday’s game, and were in contention for much of this game, albeit without creating enough chances or really testing Giants defence, particularly in the third period when they really needed to conjure up a piece of magic or something special to tie this hockey game.
“Ultimately we played a much more sound road game and absorbed a lot of pressure, and did it well,” said head coach Todd Dutiaume.
“The frustrating thing for us was turnovers. We turned over puck on their blue line and it ends up in the back of our net, and turns out to be the deciding goal.”
Flyers fell behind to a Patrick Dwyer goal at 4:54 - Shane Owen saw a rebound from a shot fall to the back post where the Giants’ skater flicked home.
With Chase Schaber sitting a slashing minor, Fife drew level with a short handed goal that stemmed from a horrid mistake from Colin Shields who saw his pass find Mike Cazzola who fired him from the front of the net.
Evan Stoflet saw a his shot fly through traffic after some great work on the back boards by Bari McKenzie, but chances were at a premium all night long in this game.
That continued throughout the second period – Darcy Murphy missed a golden chance on a powerplay as he skied his shot with the back door wide open.
Just as it looked like a 1-1 score at the second break, Fife turned the puck over and were punished as Dwyer netted the rebound off a shot from Kyle Baun.
It was the worst time to cough a goal, and that shift of momentum carried into the third period where, despite some spells of pressure, Fife couldn’t get Giants fully on the back foot of create enough hassle around the nets.
With 1:37 left on the clock, Owen headed to the bench for a six on five finish. The empty net survived several long range efforts before Fife pushed for a goal.
It didn’t come and the Irish journey ended with zero points.
Fine margins, ones that Fife need to get on the other side of to make this anniversary season a huge success.