Fife Flyers: play-off hopes hit by Belfast loss & Sato’s Gordie Howe hat-trick

Fife Flyers’ play-off hopes took a bit of a dunt as they went down 7-4 at Belfast Giants, with results elsewhere not going in their favour. The outcome was a widening of the gap between their main rivals, who all have games in hand.
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Flyers now trail eight-placed Glasgow Clan by three points with the Braehead team having three games in hand. They are also four points behind Stars who have three in hand, and six off Manchester Storm who have two in hand.

Flyers tied the opening period 2-2 and brought this back to a one goal game late in the third, but couldn’t overcome Giants who saw Japanese international Kohei Sato deliver a Gordie Howe hat-trick - three goals, an assist and a fight which saw him taking a fair few punches from defenceman Brady Poteau.

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Tom Coolen, head coach, said: “We got that fourth goal to pull back to 5-4, and when we did that there was a spark on our bench, but the next shift we turned the puck over and they put it in the net. That made it a two-goal battle with less than seven minutes to play, and that took wind out of our sails. We fought hard, but I don’t believe it was our best game - it wasn’t. Any time you lose seven goals is not a great game.”.

Belfast Giants mark a goal against Fife Flyers (Pic: Phillip Magowan, PressEye)Belfast Giants mark a goal against Fife Flyers (Pic: Phillip Magowan, PressEye)
Belfast Giants mark a goal against Fife Flyers (Pic: Phillip Magowan, PressEye)

Teemu Pulkkinen opened the scoring shorthanded with a neat breakaway finish. Travis Brown levelled at 6:39 when he got on a loose puck to push it over the line in close after Dominik Salama couldn't hold onto Cameron Pound's shot from the point.

Johan Eriksson put Flyers back ahead when he squeezed the puck past Tyler Beskorowany after being left all alone in the slot, but the period did end tied. After Poteau and Kohei Sato had dropped the gloves, Daniel Tedesco scored a fine individual goal to level things up at 16:41.

Sato then put the Giants ahead 11:37 into period two to complete a Geordie Howe hat trick. The Japanese international was fast-becoming the star of the show for the home side with an individual goal through Salama’s five-hole 100 seconds into period three to give Giants a two-goal cushion.

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Lucas Chiodo did excellently to turn the puck over along the boards in Giants’ zone and feed Vitalijs Pavlovs in front to cut the deficit back down to one with 13:40 to play as Flyers refused to go away, but 37 seconds later David Goodwin’s one-timer took a deflection on its way to the net to put Giants back two ahead. Tom Coolen wanted a video review on the play, but the officials were satisfied there was no high stick and play continued – coaches can only challenge goaltender interference.

Flyers got themselves back to within one, but again they were undone by Giants again quickly after. Sean Giles pulled it back to 5-4 at 49:44, only for David Goodwin to score 20 seconds later again. Sato made it a hat trick to round off a three-goal win for the hosts.

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