Fife Flyers triumph in Valentine’s shoot out game coach calls ‘comedy of errors’

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Tom Coolen often says hockey is a game of errors. After tonight’s game he and his Panthers’ counterpart, Jonathan Paredes, would have needed a calculator to keep tabs on the mistakes in this defence-free, utterly bonkers shoot out.

But, the bottom line – a 9-7 win for Flyers sent everyone home happy, even more so with Glasgow Clan and Manchester Storm both losing. The gap is closing. The pressure is building.

It’s been a long time since hockey fans have watched such a crazy shoot out, and the chants of “we want ten” which rang round the rink glossed over the fact that Fife were down, and nearly out, several times across the 60 minutes.

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Coolen called the game a “comedy of errors” while Paredes compared it to ping pong. Hat-trick hero Troy Lajeunesse compared it to a roller-coaster, but the precious points stayed in Kirkcaldy - and for that, the criticism of the sloppiness at the heart of this game was tempered with the broadest of smiles as fans headed out into the night.

Fife Flyers celebrate against Nottingham Panthers (Pic Jillian McFarlane)Fife Flyers celebrate against Nottingham Panthers (Pic Jillian McFarlane)
Fife Flyers celebrate against Nottingham Panthers (Pic Jillian McFarlane)

They certainly got into the spirt of it, celebrating Lajeunesse’s hat-trick goal by throwing their hats on to the ice pad, while mascot Geordie Munro led the post-game applause from centre ice. Anyone making a first ever visit to the rink must think it’s like this every week. The hockey is certainly fun, but they shouldn’t get used to such big scores.

“"I hope this is a one and done" said Coolen as he gathered his thoughts on a rollickingly entertaining game. “It was a comedy of errors out there tonight, but the last shot wins - and it did. We scored couple of quick ones to jump front,” he said. “Defensively we were atrocious tonight. I expressed that to our players. I'd say it happens to every team - not just us. When it is all said and done, it is really good to come out on the winning side. Two huge points with Manchester and Glasgow not winning.”

Flyers were 2-0 down after four minutes and asleep at the wheel as Panthers netted through Simon Despres and Hugon Roy. Jonas Emmerdahl woke them up with a fine shot to make it 2-1 after six minutes, and Teemu Pulkinnen had them level at 17:45 only for Panthers to get the final say with a goal 14 seconds from the buzzer as Michael Caruson sent Shane Owen’s water bottle flying with a slapshot as they played with the extra skater on a delayed penalty call.

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Period two dished up two goals apiece and Panthers stayed one step ahead as hey took their chances, but they ere just as ropey when it came to defensive hockey. Max Humitz got Flyers level with a cracking goal, but the period ended with a lengthy video review before the refs gave Panthers’ fifth with Alexander Lunsjo getting the credit.

The third was simply a shoot out, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Heineken days. Flyers netted five times, but only really sealed this game in the final minutes. It took them 48 minutes to get ahead 7-6 with a wicked shot from Lajeunesse, prompting Panthers to call a time out. Logan Neilson then tied the game at 7-7 before Flyers responded almost immediately; Lucas Chiodo with the pass from the left, Johan Erikkson with the touch home at 51:23.

In the final minutes, Flyers were handed a five on three powerplay, Tom Coolen called a time out, and Lajeunesse delivered with his hat-trick counter. As the song says, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish.

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