Large crowd sees Fife Flyers lose home opener to Glasgow Clan

Danick Gauthier scored Fife Flyers' first goal of the season, but Glasgow Clan claimed the victory. Pic: Steve Gunn
Danick Gauthier scored Fife Flyers' first goal of the season, but Glasgow Clan claimed the victory. Pic: Steve Gunn

Fife Flyers 2 Glasgow Clan 3

A large and loud home crowd at Fife Ice Arena was left disappointed as Glasgow Clan claimed a Challenge Cup victory.

Fife Flyers home opener did not go according to plan as their adversaries from the west skated into a 3-0 lead, with a late rally from avoiding a complete anti-climax for the majority of the 2598 attendance, but unable to salvage the match.

Clan deserved their win - they were quicker onto pucks and more organised on the special teams - but the consolation for Flyers is that they will get better, with four imports thrown in at short notice after two days of travelling from Australia, and Clan a week ahead in terms of playing competitive hockey.

Most of the damage was done in the second period when Flyers' effectively stopped playing, but a careless shorthanded concession early in the third period proved to the killer blow as the home team's rousing comeback bid fell a goal short.

"Our start and finish was decent, it was the mid-section of that game where we really had a big lull," said head coach Todd Dutiaume as he reflected on a disappointing start for his side.

"You can't shut off in this league at any time, and we were certainly guilty of that.

"It's disappointing because I thought we had some positive, competitive signs through preseason, it just didn't transfer over tonight.

"The guys are disappointed. It was a big crowd and they probably feel they let the people down a little bit tonight by not being at our best for the entire night."

With a good turnout of both home and away fans, the noise inside the barn in the build-up to face-off was at fever pitch, with drums, clappers, chanting and tunes all mixing together to create a rousing atmosphere.

A frenetic first five minutes of action kept the crowd engaged, and had Flyers scored during good spells when they were on top, it may well have created a wave of momentum that would have produced a different outcome.

However, for all their pressure Flyers were unable to seriously test Clan netminder Patrick Killeen, who took advantage of a lack of traffic in front of him to make some confidence-building saves after losing 13 goals the previous weekend.

The game changed six minutes into the second period when the loss of two powerplay goals in quick succession not only deflated the crowd, but also punctured the competitive edge that Flyers had played with throughout the first.

Both goals came on James Isaacs penalties with Mathieu Roy (26.38) and Chad Rau (28.28) taking advantage of the extra man.

Flyers were now struggling to get any sort of grip on the game, and Clan punished them again early in the third period, Scott Tanksi pouncing on sloppy puck control on the powerplay to skate clear and score a shorthanded third.

The season had barely started but already Fife were facing a test of their mettle - a heavy shut-out defeat in the home opener would have been tough to swallow - but the team showed some character to mount a fightback.

The turning point came in the 51st minute when Clan's Roy was thrown out on a 5+Game penalty for a spearing incident on Carlo Finucci, and Fife took advantage almost immediately with Danick Gauthier's shot from distance finding a way past Killeen.

Another goal quickly followed, with Tim Crowder opening his account for Fife as he swatted home a rebound from Gauthier's shot, and with plenty time left on the powerplay, Fife now had the bit between their teeth.

The noise levels rose, netminder Andrew Morrison was withdrawn, and pressure was applied, but Clan refused to crack as they held on for the win.

Flyers now travel to Dundee Stars tonight, and Dutiaume added: "It's a long season and we get another crack at it tomorrow night.

"We need to go into this tough Dundee building and try to grease out a result."