Goals dry up for Fife Flyers forwards

Matt Sisca in front of the Dundee Stars net (Pic: Steve Gunn)
Matt Sisca in front of the Dundee Stars net (Pic: Steve Gunn)

Fife Flyers were left to rue a weekend which saw them unable to close out a two-goal lead, take just one point out of four - and their forwards fail to deliver a single goal.

For a club keen to challenge for honours and make its mark this season, those returns are simply not good enough.

After Saturday’s 3-2 overtime defeat to Edinburgh Capitals, in which the goals came from defencemen, Flyers were shut out 2-0 on the road to Dundee Stars.

The Challenge Cup results left them second bottom of their group, but, more worryingly, they highlighted the spark which seems to have gone out of the team’s play just three weeks into the new campaign.

Flyers opened the 2016/17 season with superb victories against Nottingham and Belfast, but, having set the bar high, they have failed to maintain that momentum.

Shades of last season? Let’s hope not. There is absolutely no doubt the fans won’t thole another autumn of grinding performances and a stack of defeats, so the onus is on the players and coaching staff to draw a clear line under the last two weekends and return to winning ways.

Sunday’s game was far from thrilling as two sides cancelled each other out.

It may well have been end to end for many shifts but with limited end product from either team.

Flyers were heavily outshot according to the stats – although 18-5 in P2 seemed slightly lopsided – and they struggled against the impenetrable defensive wall built around Stars netminder Joe Fallon.

Dundee looked the livelier side at times thanks to the drive of Vinny Scarsella, whose goal finally cracked the deadlock, and Matt White, but no-one on the ice pad really got this game by the scruff of the neck and dictated the play.

It cried out for a goal. Instead we got stalemate. Fife’s movement off the puck wasn’t sharp enough to create the chances they needed to really test Fallon.

Phil Paquet had a couple of shots - the better chance came at the wrong angle and he let fly as he slid to the ice - Carl Finucci shot wide from a great position, Brendan Brooks went one on one with a defenceman, won the battle but couldn’t get past the goalie, Sebastien Thinel had a shot on the turn, and then Josh Scoon made a crafty steal off a dozy Josh Grievson to set up Finucci but he couldn’t finish.

That was pretty much it for the 60 minutes, 54 of which saw the scoreboard resolutely stuck at 0-0.

The game could have gone either way in that time – it really all hinged on who got the opening goal.

Stars broke with some purpose, and had good spells of the pressure which did test Fife’s defence, but Owen was equal to them.

The hosts started the third period with a gift of a powerplay opportunity after Paquet, standing on the bench, decided to have a dig at the back of Cale Tanaka’s head, shoving his helmet down over his eyes - a dumb penalty which could have been costly.

Flyers killed the penalty and then lost David Turon through injury, and they also stood firm when Chris Wands was harshly called for boarding at 50:25 - another big opening Stars failed to take.

The hosts then lost White on a ten-minute misconduct after he reacted rather rashly to the ref’s whistle before finally making the breakthrough with six minutes to play.

Inevitably it was Scarsella who made the move, spotting the gap and picking his spot before the defence could react.

With 1:22 Fife called a time out and pulled Owen.

Stars simply formed an even tighter circle round their net, and when the puck bounced between bodies and skates, it fell kindly for Justin Faryna who hit the empty net from deep within his own zone.

A run of four defeats has taken the sheen off Flyers’ smashing start.

The goal this weekend is simple - halt the losses before they stretch into October.

This weekend’s games against Coventry at home and on the road to Edinburgh must yield points.

And performances much closer to those of the opening weekend.