Sunday best as Fife Flyers defeat tired Panthers

Fife Flyers logo large hi-res
Fife Flyers logo large hi-res

There are nights when Fife Flyers give you a glimpse into their true potential, and deliver the sort of win that is needed to underpin their entire season.
On the coldest of Sundays, they did just that with a warming, and thoroughly deserved, 5-2 win over Nottingham Panthers, but it won’t count for much if they slip back into the habits which have left fans frustrated and infuriated.

For a team in search of consistency, this win - huge, gutsy and hard earned - must become the catalyst for a springboard into a festive season packed with big games and potentially cracking hockey nights.

If they draw confidence from this result, then they will surely start to make progress and join the dots between games to finally deliver a level of consistency that has eluded them throughout the season to date.

Do that and there is potential to make progress up the league and conference standings.

There’s still talk of a change in the dressing-room - and it’s a move that has to be made regardless of tonight’s win. Flyers need that spark - get the right player and all the good things about this squad might finally align.

A crowd of 1700 - not bad a Sunday night considering the home double header so close to Christmas - enjoyed a great finale to this game.

They saw Flyers take an early lead in a closely fought opening period, hold on for 2-2 after two and then break it open in the third as Panthers’ punishing schedule of three games in three nights took its toll.

To put the win down to Nottingham’s fatigue - and they certainly didn’t have as much in the tank - would be unfair to Flyers’ work ethic and determination to dig in.

They got a lot out of many players, and when they had the momentum they certainly made the most of it.

They scorned a couple of decent chances before grabbing the opener at 18:06.

It came via the unlikely source of defenceman Tommy Muir who left Dave Ling on his backside and took off on a mazy run down the ice pad. He chased the puck, got it back, and his shot delivered the perfect rebound for Jeff Lee to bury.

Panthers upped their game in the second period and were level at 23:09 when Stephen Lee ripped a shot from the blue line through traffic and clean into the net on the powerplay.

Back came Flyers and Phil Paquet scored a simple goal at 26:44 as he flicked puck rolled under the netminder and trickled over the line, but Logan MacMillan bagged a rebound from a spilled shot to make it 2-2 going into the second break.

It was clear the next goal was going to be significant, and it was Fife who got it on the powerplay as referee Alan Craig binned MacMillan for a slash off the puck. Rioux’s shot was blocked, and again it fell neatly, this time for Justin Fox to bury at 47:59.

Within four minutes it was 4-2 as Fife really dug in, broke up Panthers plays and skated with real purpose.

This time it was TJ Caig who rang the red light, side stepping a player diving to block the shot and with the defenceman committee he simply hammered it home.

Panthers stepped up the pressure in the closing five minutes but Fife didn’t flinch.

As the clock ran down, Nottingham pulled their netminder, only to see Michael Dorr slide the puck home from wide on the right for 5-2.

The result - and the performance - went down well in the home dressing room.

Todd Dutiaume, head coach, said: ‘‘A lot of unselfish plays on the ice tonight - guys blocking shots, laying their bodies on the line - and these things matter.

‘‘These games make it more enjoyable for the guys to play.’’

Ryan Dingle admitted it was a happy dressing-room - one that he is keen to see now start to motor.

‘We want to get better and better each game. We need to eliminate the roller coaster ride- need to limit the ups & downs,’’ he said.’’It felt really good to get a huge win against very good opponents.’’