Flyers hit Giants for nine in thrilling game

Fife Flyers v Belfast Giants, February 2017 (Pic: Steve Gunn)
Fife Flyers v Belfast Giants, February 2017 (Pic: Steve Gunn)

Not many teams will put nine goals past title chasing Belfast Giants.

Fife Flyers did, and their 9-5 win was thoroughly deserved.

Ric Jackman, Fife Flyers v Belfast Giants, February 2017 (Pic: Steve Gunn)

Ric Jackman, Fife Flyers v Belfast Giants, February 2017 (Pic: Steve Gunn)

It came thanks to a gutsy and fiercely determined 5-1 rally in the third period.

There were some huge performances across the bench, and, once again, Ryan Dingle led by example.

The captain netted the crucial fifth goal that was the siren call in the third, and he chased down every puck.

One shift summed up his night’s graft. Giants were on the powerplay and pulled netminder Jackson Whistle when Dingle seized possession and took off. He weaved his way past two players only to see his shot deflected off the leg of a defenceman.

He kept going round the net, and, at one stage, seemed to have the entire Giants line tied up as the clock chewed up precious seconds.

If Fife can tap into that spirit, that willingness to graft and do whatever is needed, then they’ll hit the play-offs with a real chance of success.

This win was certainly on the cards much earlier in the evening as Fife stormed into a solid 4-1 lead with just 22 minutes played.

The tireless Brendan Brooks got them off and running at 3:31 as he let fly from the right wing, and his shoe flew into the opposite corner at 13:10 past a static Jackson Whistle.

Justin Fox, another player who hustled all night and had some growling discussions with big Matt Nickerson during the game, cancelled out a David Rutherford strike, and then Chase Schaber finished off an excellent break out at 18:26 to wrap up the opening period.

Dingle made it 4-1 at 22:25 and Fife looked comfortable only for Giants to turn up the pressure and claw their way back, goal by goal.

By 37 minutes they’d wiped out Fife’s advantage - counters coming from Blair Riley, Colin shields and Mike Quesnele - and they needed just 120 seconds of period three to seize the lead for the first time; Riley’s determination to keep digging for the puck in front of the net paying off at the second or third opportunity.

Fife needed ta goal to steady the ship, and it came courtesy of Dingle with 44 minutes played.

They then rolled up their sleeves and hit Giants with two massive goals for a 7-5 lead at 48 minutes – Phil Paquet making some quick adjustments to his positioning to slam home number six, and then Russ Moyer setting up Brooks for a slickly executed five on three powerplay goal.

Fife continued to surge forward and effectively sealed the game with an empty net short handed strike at 57:20 from Russ Moyer as Giants’ gamble of pulling Whistle backfired.

Schaber made it nine in the dying seconds before Adam Keefe and Paquet clashed on the boards.

The gloves were dropped as Keefe went for the scrap, perhaps with more relish than Paquet.

The Giants player got a two plus game for instigating, while the Fife defenceman took five for fighting.

>> Stats:

Fife Flyers 9 Belfast Giants 5

Period scores: 3-1, 1-3, 5-1,

SOGS: Fife (Owen) 35, Belfast (Whistle) 40

PIMs: 19-27

Scoring: Fife Flyers: Brendan Brooks (2+3), Justin Fox (1+0), Chase Schaber (2+0), Ryan Dingle (2+1), Philippe Paquet (1+2), Russ Moyer (1+2), Mathew Sisca (0+2), Carlo Finucci (0+2), Sebastien Thinel (0+2), Kyle Haines (0+1), Ric Jackman (0+2)

Belfast Giants Scoring: David Rutherford (1+2), Michael Quesnele (1+0), Blair Riley (2+0), Colin Shields (1+1), Jeff Mason (0+1), Michael Forney (0+1), Brandon Benedict (0+1), Chris Higgins (0+2), Matt Towe (0+1)