Fife Flyers’ precious point but defeat in penalty shoot out with Cardiff Devils

Another game and another point to keep the momentum rolling, but Fife Flyers have little wiggle room in the race to land a play-off spot - and 3-0 leads need to be fully preserved to secure wins in regulation time.
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They dug deeper than deep once again against Cardiff Devils in a thrilling game at Fife Ice Arena which showcased everything that is good about Tom Coolen’s team - and the lack of depth at its very core.

With Kyle Osterberg out injured - but close to a return - the guys drained the tanks once more and had they emerged with both points, it would have been a just reward, but hockey can be a cruel sport, and seeing a 3-0 lead clawed back changed everything. It was a night when the specialist teams came to the four with two thirds of the goals coming on the powerplay, while Fife’s penalty killing unit put in some excellent shifts. Netminder Shane Owen stonewalled Devils for more than half an hour and took the MoM award, but there were several huge performances across the bench in a 5-4 loss.

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Collin Shirley worked tirelessly, Teemu Pulkinnen carried real offensive threat and Drake Pilon got in the heads of every Devils’ player in a glorious game which saw him chirp, check and hit the net. He drew penalties, threw players off their game, and when he hit the net, turned and waved to the big Devils’ support. Fife have needed a character like this for seasons.

Collin Shirley celebrates his opening goal for Fife Flyers against Cardiff Devils (Pic: Derek Young)Collin Shirley celebrates his opening goal for Fife Flyers against Cardiff Devils (Pic: Derek Young)
Collin Shirley celebrates his opening goal for Fife Flyers against Cardiff Devils (Pic: Derek Young)

Flyers were more than worthy of their 1-0 first period lead, Shirley tapping home after break work by Pilon at 3:32. Devils looked jittery in their own zone all night long, and it was no real surprise when Flyers struck with a 24th minute powerplay as Mux Humitz kept digging to get the puck over the line.

Devils piled on the pressure, but their momentum was broken by a cross check penalty against Cole Sandford, and Fife struck for 3-0, with Pulkinnen turning home a shot from Shirley at 33:12. Devils’ powerplay finally delivered after 35 minutes as Arniel turned home a finely weighted pass to the back post from Trevor Vox, and they were back in the game three minutes later as Brandon Anderson netted on the powerplay as Flyers left the back door open.

They then tied the game with their goal of the night - a superb wrist shot from from Joey Martin off a drop pass from Bode Wilde at 44:12, and their greater depth started tell as Fife tired.

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But Coolen’s team rallied again - their work ethic cannot be criticised this season - and Pilon pounced after a wicked bounce off the back boards with ten minutes on the clock.

Fife coughed a poor equaliser minutes later as Arneil got his second off the night off a fine pass from the right, to take this game into sudden death overtime.

Three on three sudden tight was intense, but Fife had chances - Shirley, Pulkinnen and Troy Lajeunesse all testing netminder Tyler Wall - but they couldn’t get a winner and it was on to the shoot-out lottery. Sanford went first and was the only one of ten skaters to hit the net to claim the second point that Fife needed much more than them.

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