Fife Flyers flashback: Shattered plexi and broken dreams in 2013 play-off quarter-final

Fife Flyers Kris Hogg is showered in glass as the plexi shatters during the play-off quarter-final with Nottingham Panthers in 2013. Pic: Steve Brown
Fife Flyers Kris Hogg is showered in glass as the plexi shatters during the play-off quarter-final with Nottingham Panthers in 2013. Pic: Steve Brown

Fife Flyers match-up with Nottingham Panthers this weekend will be the second time the clubs have met in the EIHL play-off quarter-finals

The previous meeting, six years ago, was full of controversy where the fine margin between success and failure was cruelly exposed.

Handed the toughest of the four play-off ties and pitted against the 2013 league champions, a team that had swatted them aside 10-2 only a few weeks ago, Flyers played out of their skins.

They were 4-0 up in the first leg and cruising - with a little luck, or a better bounce here and there, it could have been five or six and Panthers would have had no cause for complaint.

It was thrilling to watch them tear into a Nottingham outfit that had been virtually without flaw all season.

There was an intense focus about Fife's play - one Panthers never showed - as they won every puck, every turn-over, and anytime Nottingham did swarm round their net, a blue, white and gold shirt stood between them and the goal.

Casey Haines’ opening goal at 1:39 gave them the confidence to surge forward - and how they did.

Eight minutes of almost non-stop hockey followed before a second goal lit the rink.

At 10:37 Derek Keller went coast to coast, drove the net superbly, and when his shot was blocked, Bobby Chaumont - a player instinctively in the right spot at the right time - turned it home.

Just two minutes later it was 3-0 as John Dolan - playing the game of his season - made a great play and took the hit to set up Podge Turnbull for a superb finish.

Panthers called an immediate time-out to steady their ship and attempt to spike Fife’s momentum. It was a good move.

Gallivan went clean through only to be denied by Pitton with another top-drawer save; one of many he pulled off throughout the night.

Panthers turned up the pressure in the second period - they had to - but could find no way through, not even when Fox had the goal at his mercy. He missed the target.

At 26:06 Fife went 4-0 up with another superb attack. Dolan again made the opening, taking a huge hit on the plexi, and Hogg was the executioner.

The stoney faces on Nottingham’s bench said it all. The champs were in deep trouble.

It could easily have been 5-0 as Turnbull’s one-timer flew up off the netminder’s shoulder and landed inches from the line where Hogg just couldn’t quite connect.

Into the third and a game that ref Cowan had allowed to flow almost uninterrupted, suddenly, he found his whistle.

A tripping call on Carriveau at 44:23 looked soft, then came a delay of the game as Keller fired the puck out of the rink.

Fair enough, but it handed Panthers an 11-second five on three powerplay. They needed just five before Ling rifled home for 4-1.

At 47:32 Danny Stewart sent the puck flying out of the zone, and the rink, into the crowd two sections away.

The lino called delay of the game - an appalling decision which left Stewart incandescent. He could only watch as Benedict drilled home for 4-2.

His verbal exchange with the stripeys as he returned for the face-off required no interpreter.

The calls clearly rattled Flyers as Panthers upped the pressure, but they quickly regained their composure and were pushing strongly for a vital fifth goal when the game ended in chaos and disarray.

With 1:08 remaining, Hogg was spun backwards into the plexi and the entire pane shattered around him.

The shock of the implosion was heard around the rink, and it took some time to clear up the mess while debates were held about what to do next.

Part of the Nottingham side had acknowledged the fans and departed for the dressing-room even before it was announced the game was over and the time remaining would be added to the start of Sunday’s second leg.

We’ll never know if, had that 1:08 been played, Flyers might have got that fifth goal.

The second leg proved to be just as incident-packed as Fife were pulled back to level pegging on aggregate by Panthers who took the opening period 2-0 with goals from Ling at 7:46 and a power play from Eric Werner at 16:32.

The half hour mark had passed when Bobby Chaumont went on a breakaway. His shot was saved, but the puck then became free and trickled over the goal line before a defenceman flicked it away.

Referee Dean Smith awarded the goal and took both teams back to centre ice to re-start ... only to then return to the goal judge for clarity, and wash it out.

The way in which the ref handled the matter came in for widespread criticism, and left Flyers fans wondering ‘‘what if’’ as it would have their team ahead on aggregate at a critical stage in the game.

In the end, despite a huge effort as the clock wound down, Flyers were finally beaten by a strike from Roib Lachowicz which sealed the match.

They then pulled netminder Bryan Pitton but couldn’t secure the goal that would have forced overtime, and left the ice to a standing ovation.