Fife Flyers start pre-season with win over Herlev Eagles

Bari McKenzie celebrates as Kyle Just's overtime winner hits the net. Pic: Jillian McFarlane
Bari McKenzie celebrates as Kyle Just's overtime winner hits the net. Pic: Jillian McFarlane

Fife Flyers 4 Herlev Eagles 3 (OT)

Fife Flyers got their pre-season off to a positive start as they came from behind to secure an overtime win over Herlev Eagles last night.

New signing Kyle Just got the decisive goal at the end of a competitive fixture that also saw Chase Schaber grab a double on his return from injury.

Mike Cazzola was also on target, netting an equaliser with just 13 seconds left of normal time as Flyers withdrew netminder Adam Morrison for a six-on-four powerplay.

The result was particulalry pleasing given Flyers are still waiting on the arrival of four key imports, and the youngsters who stepped into the line-up showed up well.

The victory certainly meant something to the home dressing room, which was buzzing after full-time, and Todd Dutiaume was happy with what he saw.

"It's nice to get a win under your belt early," he said. "It helps with confidence and cameraderie in the dressing room.

"For being together for just under three and half practices, and being short staffed, we did a good job, and the work ethic was there for sure.

"We were sloppy at times, but that's the reason we have these games."

As well as the signed Brits, Flyers also handed strips to Martyn Simpson and Scott Jamieson, who will be on two-way contracts with Kirkcaldy Kestrels this season.

The pair did their cause no harm, while Chad Smith, Jordan Buesa and Sam Jones all gave assured performances, alongside the more experienced Bari McKenzie.

"This is a great opportunity for the young guys to go out and get a regular shift," Dutiaume added.

"They put in a good shift, and while there were a few mistakes made out here, it was the same with the rest of the team.

"Thats where they're going to learn - they need the experience - so we rolled with them the entire game and we'll continue to do so tomorrow."

Flyers took the lead inside the third minute as Just pinched the puck to set up Schaber who finished well from close quarters.

The Danish opponents, several weeks further into their preseason training, were dangerous throughout, and goals from Acke Ringstrom and Christoffer Gath had them in front early in the third period.

Schaber brought Fife level with his second of the night - a ripper of a shot from the right on the powerplay on 47 minutes - as he looked back to his old self after a season blighted by injury.

However, a five-on-three powerplay goal from Johan Skinnars put the Danes back in front after James Livingston was penalised for a face-off violation.

That looked to be the decisive goal until a penalty called against Herlev in the final two minutes presented Fife with a powerplay, and after calling a time-out, and withdrawing Morrison, a close range finish from Cazzola took the game to overtime.

Herlev found themselves with two skaters in the penalty box, presenting Flyers with a five-on-three, and Just fired home to seal the victory.

Schaber was announced as man of the match and Dutiaume revealed that he cut his game short as he continues his recovery from summer surgery.

"Chase is a natural athlete," he said.

"He's had a significant period of time off, so we didn't really play him that much at the end.

"My natural instinct was to put him out on the ice but we were communicating on the bench and he felt he needed a rest, and this is not the time to push him past a point where either of us feel uncomfortable.

"I thought he did a great job for us in his first competitive match free from injury since October."

Dutiaume was also pleased to score four goals given the firepower missing in the shape of the Crowder brothers and Danick Gauthier, while the defence also coped well against the speed of the Danish attack.

"We never question our offensive capabilities," he said.

"We scored a couple of powerplay goals tonight, so we're pleased with that, and there were a lot of positive signs.

"Our big D back there looked pretty mobile and tidy, and I know Jeff is happy with the performance all six guys put in, which is huge positive sign and affirms that we made some right decisions back there."

The two teams will go head-to-head again tonight at Fife Ice Arena in the second of the pre-season double header, face-off 6.30 p.m, and Dutiaume will continue to utilise his full bench in order to manage the minutes of his players.

"We're not going into any game not trying to win, but that team has been together for almost three and a half weeks and you can tell their conditioning was at a higher level for game shape," Dutiaume said.

"That being said, I don't need to overplay my guys.

"There's still two full weeks of training and three games to get through so they'll naturally pick that up. It's smart at this stage not to overplay guys."