Fife Flyers snatch defeat from jaws of victory in penalty shot loss to Clan

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Another Saturday, another loss on home ice - but one that may be a pivotal moment in determining the outcome of Fife Flyers’ season.

The 5-4 penalty shots loss to Glasgow Clan was a painful outcome; another defeat snatched from the jaws of victory.

The point gained for the regulation time loss was enough to avoid them dropping to last spot -a place they really don’t want to go – but they are now tied with Clan, albeit with two games in hand, and three points behind eighth placed Dundee and six off Manchester in seventh.

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Flyers must eliminate that gap if their season is not to end prematurely, and the more they find ways of losing, the harder that task just gets. The clock is also ticking - the team either starts winning now or this entire campaign will fritter away to nothing.Saturday saw a bigger crowd, the rink was noisy with Burntisland Pipe Band adding to to the soundtrack, and Flyers lit it up with a great opening period - the sort of match night atmosphere that has been missing for too long and which will bring more folk back rinkside.

Clan forward Dyson Stevenson goes flying over Fife Flyers netminder Shane Owen (Pic: Derek Young)Clan forward Dyson Stevenson goes flying over Fife Flyers netminder Shane Owen (Pic: Derek Young)
Clan forward Dyson Stevenson goes flying over Fife Flyers netminder Shane Owen (Pic: Derek Young)

That opening period showcased what this team is capable off as it played with pace and precision, and a sense of urgency, only for it to go into slumber mode in a scrappy second period, rallying for a short spell in the third and then coughing a game-tying goal in the last minute. That 60-minute game fundamental to success feels as elusive as ever.

Any fans who arrived just before face-off hoping to see new signing Kamerin Nault were also disappointed - he was part of the warm up before heading back to the stands, his home debut on hold until next week.

What he saw in that opening period must have thrilled him. Flyers went at a short-benched Clan from the get-go, building up a 2-0 lead in 10 minutes with goals from Janne Laakkonen and the impressive, tireless Janne Kivilahti, but they didn’t bury them.

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Gary Haden grabbed the first of his hat-trick after 12 minutes as Clan doggedly hung in there, and then changed the course of this game with an equaliser from John Dunbar just 25 seconds into the second period.

Janne Laakkonen opened the scoring for Fife Flyers (Pic: Derek Young)Janne Laakkonen opened the scoring for Fife Flyers (Pic: Derek Young)
Janne Laakkonen opened the scoring for Fife Flyers (Pic: Derek Young)

The game became scrappy, the pace dropped and Fife struggled to find their rhythm once again, but they still grabbed another lead through Chris Lawrence at 34:26 only to be hauled back again by Haden with a fine tip past Shane Owen.

Period three saw Fife get back closer to their ‘A’ game with Kivilahti exploiting the open space to net off the rebound of a shot from Christian Hausinger. Ahead for a third time, they couldn’t kill off this game.

And then came the finale - contentious, frustrating and all too familiar to Fife fans.With 2:19 to play, Clan called a time out. Ten seconds later they pulled netminder John Muse. With 1:19 to play Brayden Sherbinin hit the ice and there was a brief melee as players piled in. Chris Lawrence was binned for roughing, and Clan went on a six on four powerplay.

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Owen made one huge save as the pressure mounted, but was beaten by a rebound for Hayden’s hat-trick with 29 seconds on the clock.

Overtime was cagey as both teams opted to avoid defeat rather than going for glory, and the penalty shot out saw miss after miss after miss - eight in a row before Zack Phillips and Kevin Massy traded goals at the start of round two.

When Phillips missed on his third penalty and Gabriel Chabot struck, it came down to Chris Lawrence’s’ final shot. He skated wide to the left before homing in on goal but could find no way past Muse.

One point may be better than zero, but the point dropped was one Flyers could ill afford to concede.