Fife Flyers needed this win – and the performance that came with it.
They finally lit up the rink with a smashing Twixmas 3-0 shut out of Dundee Stars, a side that has had their number since the campaign started in September.
And it may be the turning point this team needs.
While still top four, Flyers were starting to uncouple from the front-runners after nine defeats in 12 starts, and, of greater concern, the mid-table pack were closing in.
This win kept clear blue water between the two groups, and gave Flyers a six-point cushion over Stars with a couple of games in hand.
The key now has to be to regain the momentum which saw them hit top spot and hit the repeat button when it comes to performance levels.
The mood music around the rink certainly changed as a big crowd rolled in, and there was a clear a sense of anticipation in the stands too.
They responded as Flyers came out of the traps and hustled from the face-off.
The absence of the injured Chase Schaber, Evan Bloodoff, Rick Pinkston and the suspended Carlo Finnuci, meant decent ice time from the start for young skaters Jordan Buesa and Chad Smith, and both did everything asked of them.
Brett Bulmer, the enigmatic skater dubbed ‘Mr Hollywood’, also came up with a strong, leading role.
His ability to find space through his movement and reading of the game is second to none, and he was a worthy ’man of the match’ recipient on a night when the team worked hard across all three periods and clearly thrived on the energy of a lively, vocal crowd.
“We played with a lot more fire and grittiness, and the crowd enjoyed it,” said head coach Todd Dutiaume.
It took Flyers 27 minutes to crack the scoreboard, but they had the better of a smashing opening period, dipping perhaps only slightly in the closing few moments when Stars tightened up and started to apply some pressure.
They had a let off in 12 minutes as netminder Shane Owen seemed to lose track of a puck as it pinged off his post, but Craig Garrigan couldn’t take advantage.
There was an even closer call just seconds later as Stars were awarded a penalty shot.
Charles Corcoran stepped up, and didn’t even get a shot away as he ran out of ice before encountering Owen between the pipes.
The second period saw Flyers heavily outshoot Dundee – 18-2 according to the stats, although it felt like the Taysiders had a few more efforts on goal than that.
The breakthrough finally came at 27:30 as Dannick Gauthier was first to a loose puck at the side of Stars’ net and was given the time to pick his spot with a neat flick of the wrist.
Bulmer, Evan Stoflet and Joe Basaraba all had chances to increase their tally before the interval, but credit to Stars’ netminder Pontus Sjogren who earned his corn with some important saves.
The third period was edging towards its closing stages when Fife put this game to bed with two late strikes.
There were six minutes remaining when Bulmer’s utterly sublime play saw him thread a pass through for Paul Crowder. His first shot was blocked, but he bagged the rebound to pretty much put the game beyond Dundee.
The insurance goal was an empty-net strike from Craig Moore - his first since joining his home town club last week.
Next stop, Braehead on Hogmanay for what should be an enthralling head to head with Glasgow Clan.