Flyers dig deep for gutsy win over Belfast

Josh Scoon slots home Fife Flyers opener against Belfast Giants. Pic: Steve Gunn
Josh Scoon slots home Fife Flyers opener against Belfast Giants. Pic: Steve Gunn

Fife Flyers battled through adversity for a gutsy win over Belfast Giants.

The visitors dominated the play and the shot count, but immense work-rate, solid goal-tending and clinical chance-taking allowed the short benched hosts to nick a huge victory in overtime.

The loss of Ryan Dingle and Justin Fox, added to long-term injury victim Shayne Stockton, left Flyers not only without an entire line of forwards, but key players who have carried the team on occasion this season.

After a run of three straight defeats, the injury situation forced others to raise their game - there was zero room for passengers - and every player answered the call, some stepping up their game considerably.

Add Dingle, Fox and Stockton to this type of team performance and the sky is the limit, however, with injuries taking their toll, reinforcements must be brought in promptly as maintaining these intensity levels with such a short bench is nigh on impossible.

It's fortunate, in that sense, that this was a one-game weekend for the Kirkcaldy men.

With only five recognised import forwards, plus defenceman James Isaacs playing up front, the contribution of the Brits would be crucial to Flyers chances.

Step forward Josh Scoon.

Flyers were under heavy pressure in the early stages and fell behind on 11.24 as Alex Foster pounced just a few seconds after a powerplay that saw Giants player-coach Derek Walser chip the puck over an empty net.

With the home fans becoming quiet - perhaps fearing the worst - Flyers were looking for inspiration and it came from an unlikely source as Scoon finished off a lovely move at the back post for his first EIHL goal in two years.

There was surprise in the DJs voice as he read out the scorer's name but this was a well deserved goal for a player who may not be renowned for putting up numbers, but is second to no-one in terms of attitude and application.

Giants upped the pressure towards the first break, but Flyers defended resolutely with Carlo Finucci typifying the determination, taking the full force of a slapshot on the hand but only grimacing for a second, then carrying on.

Brendan Brooks stepped into Dingle's skates with a captain's performance and the veteran put Flyers in front 1.13 into period two, finding the smallest space between netminder Stephen Murphy's shoulder pad and the near post with a pinpoint wristshot.

With their special teams fragmented, Flyers had to improvise on the powerplay and utilised David Turon as a makeshift forward. The big defenceman acted as a screen in front of Murphy and almost made his presence count as the home side looked to extend their lead.

But it was Giants who struck next on the powerplay on 28.31, Walser finding acres of space on the blindside of the Fife defence to slot low past Owen.

There were no further goals in the 60 minutes as a huge defensive effort from Fife was backed up by a rock solid Owen, who made save after save.

With exhaustion setting in, Flyers were camped in their own end and grateful for the final buzzer that gave them a chance to nick two points in three-on-three overtime.

And their first attack produced the winner, as Russ Moyer found enough energy to lead a charge, swap passes with Sebastian Thinel, then bundle the puck past Murphy at his near post.

For all Giants dominance, Flyers courage made them deserving winners.