Fife Flyers go to wire for key derby win

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At this stage of the season, teams chasing titles find ways of winning hockey games, no matter what.

Just 1:54 stood between Fife Flyers and a derby defeat at the hands of Edinburgh Capitals when Shayne Stockton grabbed the lifeline equaliser the fans were starting to fear might not come.

In overtime they were relentless in their pursuit of a winner, but Caps took them all the way to penalties before conceding their grip on this smashing game on a 5-4 scoreline.

As derbies go, this was packed with action - and the fans revelled in it.

Caps’ coach Riley Emmerson promised a ‘crazy gang’ approach and duly delivered as his team was happy to mix it up and also slow it down - anything to break Flyers’ rhythm.

They may be playing only for pride, but he wants to end this season on a high note. He came close tonight - and Todd Dutiaume has no doubts they’ll scalp someone before the kit bags are packed away in a few weeks time.

‘’This game meant a lot to them,’’ he said. ‘’Their season was on the line, and they were pushing and pushing in the second and third periods.

‘’Those two goals at the end of the first we lost destroyed us. We’ve been in this position before and found it hard to come back in adversity - but I was proud of how we responded tonight. They stuck with and kept pushing.’’

The goals Dutiaume referred to came at the tail end of a first period which Flyers dominated.

The barrage of rubber they aimed at Caps’ netminder Carson Chubak was huge - and he stoned them time after time.

Stockton got the opener at 7:13 and Jeff Lee - playing in place of Danny Stewart made it two on the powerplay at 11:19.

The period also saw moments when players snapped and squared up.

In the tenth minute, Phil Paquet and Ned Lukacevic squared up.

The Fife defenceman dropped his gloves, the former Flyer shoogled his off but remained pretty static as his enforcer, Kyle Flemington stepped in to take the fight.

Outshot two to one, Caps, somehow, cut the gap to 2-1 through Taylor Dickin in the 12th minute, and then turned the game upside down with a lightning double late on as Flyers defence went AWOL.

Trevor Gerling’s equaliser at 18:57 was a thing of beauty. The defence certainly opened up for him, but his movement and finish were top drawer.

Lukacevic then sealed the comeback to give Caps a 3-2 first period lead less than 60 seconds later.

The second period saw Justin Fox catch Gerling with a wayward stick which he took exception to. Kyle Bigos stepped into the altercation but escaped a third man in penalty. As the melee settled down, TJ Caig opted for a piece of the big defenceman as Fife stood their ground.

Stockton tied the game at 3-3 with 23 minutes played before Josh Scoon’s superb turn and pass sent Ryan Dingle one on one with Chubak - the netminder pulling off a huge, and vital save.

There were more penalties on the half hour as Bigos took exception to a check from Kyle Haines - Caig again stepped in for a piece of the fun, while Sean Beattie bumped his gums; all glorious fun which had the fans out of their seats, but which impacted on the momentum of the game.

The third period saw Caps side tighten up in defence and grab the go-ahead goal at 46:57; RJay Berra netting a rebound.

Flyers had to be patient. They carved out some great chances - Dingle firing a great shot off the bar - as the clock wound down, but their timing was perfect.

With 1:54 remaining, Dingle threw the puck into the crease, and Stockton grabbed enough of it to find a way past Chubak.

In overtime, Flyers were the much more determined side. They clearly wanted the win and had four great chances to win it; Delahey dancing across the goal, Dingle lifting one too high, Pacquet firing wide, and then Sachetti getting himself primed at the back post only to rip the puck wide.

Fox then surged through a cluster of defenceman, forcing Flemington into the tripping minor, but the powerplay unit couldn’t deliver with the 50 seconds it had, forcing this game to a shoot out conclusion.

Dingle has his spot picked out even before crossing the blue line, Fox’s finish was superb, setting up a final showdown - Brown v Lukacevic.

The former Flyer went to the right, tried for the near post but Brown had already shut it down. The puck came off his body, and the netminder took off in celebration towards the huge travelling support.

Caps were absolutely worth their point - the momentum that currently drives Flyers forward proved just too strong to contain - and with games against Dundee and Braehead to come, they may yet have a huge say in where this conference title goes.

It promises to be a fascinating finale ...