Mike Jeffrey's short-lived but memorable Fife Flyers' career
Mike Jeffrey played just 14 games for Fife Flyers but his name is still remembered by many old-time fans.
One of the many prolific points scorers of the Heineken era, his time in Kirkcaldy was short lived but memorable
A native of Halifax, Nova Scotia, he came to Flyers after a season with Stephanville Jets in the shortlived NFSHL (Newfoundland Senior Hockey League).
In Fife he was joined by defenceman Al Sims, and the legendary Dave Stoyanovich with one brief - to stack up the points.
And they did.
Centreman Jeffrey only iced in two periods of his debut against Solihull Barons but still netted four times in a 14-3 rout.
That was just the start as Flyers eased through their Autumn Cup section with a 100 per cent record. He scored four in an 11-10 win in Murrayfield, and six as Flyers swamped Glasgow Dynamos 22-2. His partner, Stoy, scored seven.
Racers then came to Kirkcaldy and were beaten 7-4 with Jeffrey and Stoyanovich among a number of players thrown out of a typically full-bloodied derby which will always be remembered for the horrible accident which saw Andy Linton lose his sight in one an eye after being struck by a slapshot.
Jeffrey then added 1+2 in an 8-7 win at Ayr to set a new points record for the Autumn Trophy.
That sent Flyers into the final at the NEC in Birmingham where they were beaten in sudden death by Nottingham Panthers.
The following night they headed back to Edinburgh to face Murrayfield, and crashed 14-2 - their biggest defeat to Racers in the Heineken era - and the rumour mill started to buzz.
There was talk of imports being released, and the three Canadians were reportedly sent for “exhaustive medical tests” to see what was wrong, while the six man policy committee of Kirkcaldy Ice Hockey Club (KIHC) - which ran the team - met twice in one week to decide their fate.
A 10-3 Scottish League win over Ayr eased the pressure - “we can all come out of our houses and walk the streets again” quipped Sims - but Jeffrey’s head was still on the block.
Media reports said the committee was split over his release, although blood tests showed he was suffering from a viral infection which may have contributed to his slump.
Jeffrey responded with a 4+6 stats haul in a 13-2 blitzing of Whitley Warriors, but, by now, he was publicly linked with a move to Murrayfield with a new import tipped to arrive in Fife. A chap called Steve Moria ...
Jeffrey netted again in an 8-0 whitewash of Ayr, but also got thrown out after a fight with Wayne Bartley.
The 14th game of the HPL season saw him score four in a 12-2 win over bottom of the table Cleveland Bombers, but, according to the Fife Free Press report “he flashed only occasionally.”
That proved to be his last game in town.
On Hogmanay, he was released and signed for Racers, stating: “I have never heard of a club releasing their top scorer before.”
A rare move perhaps, but one Kirkcaldy Ice Hockey Club said had been taken “after great deliberation.”
While the club said little about the reasons for his departure, the speculation, according to the Press, was that he was acknowledged as a superb technician, but it was clearly felt he also needed to be making a greater contribution to the overall team effort.
Durham, Cleveland, Solihull and Telford were all tipped as possible moves, but he went to Murrayfield, and, almost inevitably, returned just two weeks later to score the winning goal in a pulsating 9-8 hockey game watched by 3000 fans with hundreds more turned away at the door.
Flyers were 8-2 down –they were 5-0 behind after just 13 minutes – when they staged one of their legendary comebacks .
“One of the greatest matches seen at Kirkcaldy Ice Rink in recent years” said the Press, but one with a sting in the tail as Flyers were shattered by Jeffrey’s winner 90 seconds from time.
Incredibly, Flyers outshot Racers 65-37 but were stonewalled by an inspired performance from netminder Moray Hanson
But Jeffrey’s season had one more twist.
Early in the New Year, he fell down stairs at a party and broke his ankle, ending his season. Jeffrey returned the following year and played 20 games with Nottingham Panthers, returning to North America to conclude the season with Moncton Hawks in the AHL.