Painful night as Flyers exit Challenge Cup

Jay Rosehill, Braehead Clan, was thrown out for this cross-check on Fife Flyers' defenceman James Isaacs (Pic: Martin  Watterston)
Jay Rosehill, Braehead Clan, was thrown out for this cross-check on Fife Flyers' defenceman James Isaacs (Pic: Martin Watterston)

Fife Flyers hopes of reaching the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup were snuffed out by a clinical Braehead Clan win in Kirkcaldy tonight.

They had to win in regulation time to make the last eight, and also eliminate Clan, but this game was over after one period.

Clan went 3-0 up early on to silence the huge crowd, and effectively grab control of a game that was tough, occasionally tousy, and, from a Fife perspective, painful to watch.

There was a surprise in the line-up as James Isaacs returned after a month in north America, but Ric Jackman and David Turon were absentees – and there were simply too many passengers on the ice.

Flyers did make a decent start, but conceding as early as the third minute - to the impressive Corey Cowick – was a setback, while Clan’s second at 9:44 saw Scott Pitt rifle home on the powerplay to snuff out much of the buzz that infused the rink pre-game.

But it was the third goal, at 16:07, that caused the real damage as Clan turned them over in mid-ice, and no-one picked up Kyle Wharton wide on the right, allowing him to hit the net.

The regualr niggles which saw the game punctuated by minor penalties and altercations led to the 18th minute ejection of Jay Rosehill.

The Clan’s NHL forward, and Isaacs, checked away at each other in front of the net before Rosehill knocked him down to the ice with a high cross check, and then repeated the action as he lay face down; an incident that surely catch the attention of DOPS.

Any hopes Fife had of rescuing this game rested entirely on a goal early in the second period. Instead they were 4-0 down after 27 minutes – and their slender cup hopes were effectively over as Cowick rifled the puck home.

He went on to complete his hat-trick for 5-0 before Matt Sisca finally found the net for Flyers on the powerplay, sweeping home a loose puck after Justin Fox skated into traffic.

The third period saw Callum Boyd thrown out for a dangerous slew footing on Kyle Haines – an incident which saw enforcer Trevor Hendrix become a clear third man in with no penalty, while Haines took a double minor for roughing.

Wharton added a sixth, before Brendan Brooks marked his 1000th career game with a glorious solo goal.

He grabbed the puck, danced through the Clan zone and let rip with a blistering finish, If only his team-mates had shown the same commitment ...

On the night they were outworked by a no-nonsense Clan which punished Fife’s mistakes, played tough and hard when it needed to, or wanted to – you can question some of the referee’s calls, but they didn’t cost Fife a win. They managed that all by themselves.

Todd Dutiaume, head coach, said: ‘‘We did not deserve to win either game this weekend and that’s a tough thing to say as coach of this club.

‘‘We need to take close look at our personnel - showing up one or two games in four is not acceptable.

‘‘Three mistakes in P1 cost us this game and wiped us out - the third goal was a half-assed back check, which happened to us all night long. If we keep doing that, this is the position we will find ourselves in.

‘‘They capitalised on our mistakes. That’s disappointing. If we keep doing that then we won’t even be a .500 hockey team. We’ll be around the bubble of making the play-offs and that’s not good enough.’’