Goals galore in Fife Flyers’ game that harked back to a different era of hockey

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Fife Flyers’ 9-7 goal fest victory over Nottingham Panthers had statisticians and fans delving into archives for comparable results.

You have to go back to Boxing Day 2017 to find the last time Fife broke loose to such an extent, with a 10-1 hosing of Edinburgh Capitals. They also stuck nine past their old rivals in 2016, but conceded just three. In terms of aggregate scores, Saturday’s defence-free game is certainly up there among the highest. Only an 8-6 Fife win in Cardiff in 2017 jumped immediately to mind.

There is no doubt the fans lapped it up, even if there was an acknowledgement the defensive performances of both teams had to be watched through your fingers.

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Netminders Mike Robinson and Shane Owen would probably be happy if the data from this game was wiped from their records. Goalies are fierce custodians of the numbers - shots, percentage saves and so on - and neither had their finest hour. That said, they could both point to the wide open spaces in front of their nets and rightly ask where their team-mates were.

Troy Lajeunesse celebrates his hat-trick against Nottingham Panthers (Pic: Derek Young)Troy Lajeunesse celebrates his hat-trick against Nottingham Panthers (Pic: Derek Young)
Troy Lajeunesse celebrates his hat-trick against Nottingham Panthers (Pic: Derek Young)

It was certainly a throwback to the days of the old BNL or, if you are older, the Heineken era when games could serve up 20-plus goals and imports could plunder double hat-tricks before the second period.Long-standing fans will recall Flyers putting 28 goals past Blackburn Hawks, and also the harrowing night they shipped 19 at Murrayfield to their greatest rivals, Racers.

The buzz around the rink was clear to see and hear as fans chanted “we want ten” - glossing over the fact Fife could easily have chucked this game away at several points as they trailed 2-0, 4-2 and 6-4. Panthers probably spent the journey down the M6 trying to fathom out how they managed to score seven goals on the road and still end up as the losing team.

The sharp-shooting of Troy Lajeunesse with a sublime hat-trick and doubles from Max Humitz and Teemu Pulkinnen got them over the line just before this game broke into double figures. In truth, both sides could have hit ten and kept playing.

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Tom Coolen will be keen to ensure the players have got this freewheeling approach out of their systems for tonight’s game in Guildford. An entire day on the bus should bring them back to reality. Flyers’ win was, regardless of how it came about, a big step forward in the play-off race.

It cranked up the pressure on an increasingly faltering Glasgow Clan - who threw away a 3-0 lead on an 8-5 loss on home ice to Belfast Giants - and Manchester Storm, shut out 3-0 by Sheffield Steelers. The team’s goal is points every weekend, and Saturday’s win kept that firmly on track. Success in Guildford - even one point - would set them up for what will be a long week on the road.

Flyers will spend the the bulk of the next three days on the bus, clocking up in excess of 1700 miles on two road trips. The team departed Kirkcaldy early this morning to head to Guildford, and won’t get back until close to dawn on Monday - and it’s all aboard again on Wednesday for a midweek journey to Cardiff, another 900-plus miles round trip.

It’s the most demanding week since the team got through a chaotic December schedule, and one which offers little recovery time and has a significant impact on their scheduled training programme. Skating through tiredness and dealing with bus legs are part of the business end of the season. The eyes remain firmly on the prize.