Flyers pre-season ends with overtime defeat

Bari McKenzie celebrates after putting Flyers 2-1 up. Pic: Steve Gunn
Bari McKenzie celebrates after putting Flyers 2-1 up. Pic: Steve Gunn

Fife Flyers 2 Tolzer Lowen 3 (OT)

Fife Flyers completed their pre-season programme with an overtime defeat to DEL2 side Tolzer Lowen on Sunday night.

The German outfit arrived in Kirkcaldy having been beaten 3-1 at Manchester Storm the previous night.

The match was a decent spectacle for the modest crowd in attendance, with both sides putting in plenty effort, and showing moments of quality.

Flyers were at their best in the opening period, which they largely dominated and were rewarded with a 1-0 lead.

However, the visitors upped their tempo in the second and third, posing Flyers numerous problems, and you could not begrudge them the victory.

After five warm-up games which produced mixed results, Fife head coach Todd Dutiaume admitted his squad remains a work in progress ahead of the EIHL season opener next weekend.

"It's probably been the best tune-up we've had, and we're hoping it pays dividends," he said.

"But you can still see there are some holes in our game, and that comes down to personal choice.

"You can tell when we play the right way, and make the right choices, things are going in our direction.

"There are also other factors - mental fatigue - and we're missing a big piece in Scott Aarssen at the back.

"We'll get better, but it's business time next Saturday and we've got a few things we need to continue to address."

Flyers skated with purpose during the first period, and rotated their full bench, including their young Brits, which was good to see.

Their fourth minute opener owed much to the wonderful assist from defenceman Rick Pinkston, who weaved his way through the Tolzer defence before teeing up Danick Gauthier for a close range finish.

Flyers had the bit between their teeth but were unable to extend their advantage, and the first intermission did them no favours as they were unable to pick up where they left off, with Tolzer starting to take control.

The away side were rewarded for some sustained pressure with an equaliser on 46.55 when Aziz Ehliz took his chance at the back post.

That prompted a response from Fife and Bari McKenzie should have restored their lead when presented with an empty net but a slight hesitation allowed a defenceman to get his stick in and make a vital block.

McKenzie, however, made amends on 34.02, making no mistake when presented with another open net after Mike Cazzolla's shot rattled the inside of the post as Fife made the most of a powerplay opportunity.

There was concern for Fife fans when Evan Bloodoff failed to re-emerge for the start of the third period, however, Dutiaume confirmed afterwards that the move was just precautionary, and that he is not expected to miss the home opener against Glasgow Clan next Saturday.

"He just had a minor niggle and there was no point in pushing it," he said.

A new rule this coming season will see teams punished for failing to report to the ice in time, and Flyers fell foul of this at the start of the third, being hit with a two-minute bench minor after keeping their opponents and officials waiting beyond the allotted 18 minutes.

The team's tardiness proved costly as Tolzer levelled on the resultant powerplay with Shane Owen unable to stop a massive slapshot from Kyle Beach from making it 2-2.

Flyers had the better chances to finish the game in normal time but found Tolzer netminder Andreas Mechel in good form, while Evan Stoflet rattled a post.

The home side were also on the front foot in overtime, and Brett Bulmer went one-on-one with Mechel only for the goalie to come out on top.

As the overtime period ticked towards a shoot-out, a slack giveaway from Joe Basaraba presented Tolzer with a two-on-one breakaway which ended with Florian Strobl hitting the game winner on 64.14.

This was a performance of peaks and troughs, and Flyers will take most encouragement from a fluent first period, and seek to address the issues that caused them to lose the game thereafter.