Fife Flyers’ OT loss to Glasgow Clan is huge step back in play-off bid

Fife Flyers may look back on this game as the moment their play-off hopes suffered significant, possibly irreparable damage.
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On a night when they needed to win in regulation time, they were firmly on course with a 6-3 lead over Glasgow Clan only to concede three goals in the final ten minutes and then lose 7-6 in overtime.

A three point weekend, but no ground gained on a Clan side that is clearly vulnerable, but, on the plus side a bumper crowd - it felt and looked more than the 2420 attendance - a cracking atmosphere and goals galore as both sides freewheeled and pretty much cast tight defence to the winds.

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In the second period Fife created so many chances you felt they could score on every shift, but they seemed to abort that approach in the third and sit on a three-goal lead instead of securing this game - a seventh goal would surely have stoned Clan, but 6-3 left the door ajar, and Charlie Combs goal at 51:57 saw it blown open.

A packed rink for Fife Flyers v Glasgow Clan (Pic: Derek Young)A packed rink for Fife Flyers v Glasgow Clan (Pic: Derek Young)
A packed rink for Fife Flyers v Glasgow Clan (Pic: Derek Young)

Flyers are operating on a fine margin of error in their bid to gatecrash the play-offs, and this result was a setback - one they really couldn’t afford - but, once again, they thrilled fans with their attack-minded play, scored some cracking goals and recreated a great buzz rinkside. One-goal hockey games which go to the wire have fast become the norm. The trick is to turn them into wins. They are much better than a ninth-placed team but this is a results-based business.

Flyers took the first period 2-1 and then second 4-2 - two steps to a big win, only to cough the third 3-0, with all the goals coming in the last nine minutes.

Teemu Pulkinnen’s 12th minute powerplay cancelled out Jordan Cownie’s fine opener at 7:39, and Troy Lajeunesse finished off a sweet, slick move 90 seconds from the buzzer to put them in the driving seat. Period two was pretty much non stop hockey as the refs kept their whistles in their pockets, and Fife carved out chance after chance after chance,e led by the irrepressible Lucas Chiodo, with Vitalijs Pavlovs a key figure across the ice pad.

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They passed up a 22nd minute powerplay but netted just as Clan returned to full strength; Lajeunesse blocked getting his shot away but a puck to the back post gave Pavlovs an easy tap in.

Netminder Antti Karajleinen made some huge saves to prevent Clan being blown out of the water - one point-blank stop was a key moment - and they were able to level at 3-3 by 32:16 - Mike Pelech with a scrappy counter and then Phillipe Sanche s punishing some poor defensive work. Flyers’ response was immediate, Pulkinnen netting his second of the night at 33:07, and it was 5-3 courtesy of a superb finish from Chiodo at 34:24. The rink then rocked as Collin Shirley rang the red light for 6-3.

Into the third, and Fife killed the first five minutes as Clan pushed for an opening, and ought to have taken this game by the scruff of the neck and delivered the final incision. Pelech netted on a five on three powerplay for 6-4 at 46:50 and then a key moment as Kyle Osterberg was binned for illegal equipment after picking up his helmet from the ice. The refs were correct - it’s just that no-one could figure how they missed the elbow which sent it, and the player to the ice off the puck.

As the powerplay came to an end, Combs hit the net for 6-5 and the momentum shift became evident. Into the last five minutes and frantic activity round Flyers net saw Pelech snatched a hat-trick counter to tie this game. Flyers were handed a powerplay at 58:49 but it was all a bit headless. It continued into overtime with no result, and a precious point then vanished into the night as Sanche fired high into the net from a tight angle on the right.

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