Fife Flyers’ cup hopes out of their hands

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Fife Flyers’ hopes of qualifying for the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup now hinge on their biggest rivals doing them a good turn next week.

They needed one win from this weekend’s last group games, but lost both by one-goal – Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Glasgow Clan followed by Sunday’s 4-3 reversal on home ice to table-topping Dundee Stars.

Those defeats left Fife bottom of Group A, and their only hope of progressing now hinges on the outcome of Belfast Giants’ game against Clan in Braehead on Saturday.

If the Irish side loses, they would finish tied with Fife on points, regulation wins, all wins, head to head record, and regulation losses.

The criteria which swings it in Fife’s favour, according to an EIHL tweet, rests on away games, so if Clan maintain their impressive form – and they are the hot team right now with four wins from five games – and take the points, they’d carry Fife through with them, and trophy holders Giants would be eliminated.

All of that would have been much less convoluted had Fife got the better of Dundee.

A win was all they needed, but they turned in a dreadful opening period which saw them sucked into a scrappy shoot-out, and never fully got on top of their opponents.

It took an outrageous bounce off the backboards for Flyers to grab the goal which hauled them back to 4-3 in the third period, but their powerplay was poor, and defensively they conceded some dreadful goals.

Todd Dutiaume, head coach, admitted: “The big difference was we let in four goals in 16 shots. That was the difference in the hockey game tonight. In this league you cannot take a shift off at all.

“I’m not interested in playing run and gun hockey with Dundee – they are too dangerous a team for that.”

Flyers fell behind to an eighth minute powerplay from Matt Marquardt, but responded immediately through Carlo Finucci, netting off a pass from Tim Crowder.

A second powerplay for Stars at 10:06 underlined Fife’s frailties as Kevin Dofour fired home the first of his two goals.

Mike Cazzola – arguably one of Fife’s most hard working skaters on the night – produced a great finish to capitalise on the excellent work behind the net by Tim Crowder to tie the game after 12 minutes.

Dofour strike again within two minutes as this game was blown wide open amid poor passes and giant gaps appearing across the pad.

Flyers needed a quick response in the second period, but they never grabbed this game by the scruff of the neck, and fell 4-2 in arrears after 33 minutes as Reilly O’Connor slammed home a fine shot.

Flyers had one goal washed out, and then failed to deliver on an extended powerplay which straddled the second period break – six minutes with the extra man without success pretty much summed up the night.

It took a freak bounce off the backboards to open up Stars’ defence – James Isaacs dumped the puck and it flew back to an open goal for Tim Crowder to tap home.

For all they pushed, Fife couldn’t rock Dundee off their game plan, and with the clock ticking, they pulled netminder Adam Morrison for the final 1:03 minutes.

The face-offs piled up, but time ran out before they could find a game-tying goal. In truth, the Taysiders were worthy winners.

What happens next is in the hands of their west coast rivals...