Fife Flyers hit fourth spot with Hogmanay win over Caps

Edinburgh Capitals v Fife Flyers, Hogmanay 2017
Edinburgh Capitals v Fife Flyers, Hogmanay 2017

Fife Flyers wrapped up 2017 with a derby win to conclude a four-point weekend which took them into the top four of the Elite League.

They were made to work all the way by a gutsy Edinburgh Capitals team, and broke the hearts of their oldest rivals with an empty net goal in the dying seconds to clinch a 5-3 Hogmanay win.

Fife Flyers v Guildford Flames, December 2017 (Pic: Steve Gunn)

Fife Flyers v Guildford Flames, December 2017 (Pic: Steve Gunn)

The match was everything that the recent 10-1 rout wasn’t.

Caps played with great spirit and turned this game on its head with a lightning double midway through the second period.

With both sets of fans in fine voice, it was a throwback to the days of the nosiest Fife-Caps derbies, and it was clear Flyers were rocked at times as their early lead was wiped out.

But they grabbed important goals at key points, and crucially, went in level at the end of the second, and, once they edged ahead, you sensed they’d see the job out.

Liam Heelis netted two, while Evan Bloodoff’s empty netter sealed the victory just 13 seconds from time.

The pizzas delivered to the dressing room at full-time will never have tasted so good after 60 minutes of sheer hard graft.

Fife got off to the perfect start as Peter LeBlanc caught young netminder Jordan McLaughlin cold with a shot from the centre of the blue line which whistled straight into the net.

But the young goalie then settle into a solid game and was more than worthy of the home aside’s MoM award, just ahead of hard working defenceman Nikita Kolesnikovs.

It was 2-0 as Russ Moyer’s booming pass from the point to the back post was tapped home by Liam Heelis at 19:27 – a goal which was a carbon of Ted Russell’s blistering angled pass for Russell Monteith which was a trademark of Flyers’ Grand Slam team.

While they took the opening period 2-0, Fife were outshot – and Caps had some golden chances.

Netminder Andy Iles came up with some big saves when it mattered post, but there was little he could do as Caps turned the deficit into a 3-2 lead inside four minutes at the halfway stage.

Pavel Vorobyev got their opener at the back post, and then came two strikes inside 60 second.

The equaliser came on the powerplay and with Iles minus his stick. Fife reeled, blocked every puck but eventually the pressure paid off as Kolesnikovs netted. Thirty seconds later, Fife left the back door open, and Igor Valeev rang the red light for 3-2. Suddenly it was game on.

Fife needed a response, and it came on the powerplay, and on a further delayed call as Iles went to the bench, and Shayne Stockton hit the net.

Going in 3-3 was crucial for Fife, and the third period saw them start to find some momentum once more.

They survived a game changing moment when Iles’ mishandled the puck behind his own net to set up an open goal for Caps, and somehow, the netminder recovered to pull off a save that had the fans out of their seats in applause.

It took until the 51st minute before Fife made the breakthrough amid some controversy.

James Jorgensen threw the puck in from the point, it spun up and off McLaughlin’s shoulder, and as everyone swarmed round the net, Heelis moved quickly to tap it over the line.

Charlie Mosey was a split second behind and ended up swinging on the bar while Caps’ Mike D’Orazio had a long blast for the referee which earned him a ten-minute misconduct.

Caps couldn’t exploit a 56th minute delay of the game penalty against James Isaacs, and, with 1:!2 remaining, they pulled McLaughlin.

All Fife needed was one break, and it came with 13 seconds remaining when Bloodoff snaffled the puck at the boards, mid ice, skated away and walked it into the empty net.

Cruel for Caps, perhaps, but the goal again underlined the spirit within this Fife squad which continues to dig deep and stack the victories.

The view from fourth place will never look sweeter on Hogmanay.

There is every possibility they will move even higher when 2018 dawns.