Just when you think you’ve witnessed the most satisfying Fife win over Braehead, they go and do it again. And again.
For the third time this season they tormented a woeful, dispirited Clan side. The gulf was significantly greater than the final scoreline suggests.
It could easily have been double figures as Fife created chance after chance with plays that were a joy to watch.
They took pucks off Clan skaters as easily as snatching sweets out of a toddler’s hands, spun round their zone with speed and precision, and peppered netminder Ryan Nie’s cage with 51 shots.
Only the goalie stood between Clan and utter humiliation, which made the decision to hand their MoM award to someone else all the more bewildering.
Single-handed, Nie faced up to a Fife side that free-wheeled even short-handed – four outstanding chances on one penalty kill is quite remarkable – logged so many turnovers everyone in the rink lost count, and simply brushed past Clan’s defence as if it didn’t exist. In truth, it didn’t.
During the warm-up, the grizzly Jacob Doty could be seen chirping away at Liam Heelis; unfinished business from the previous encounter.
That was as close as any Clan player got to Fife’s flying forward as he and linemate Evan Bloodoff were merciless with a defence which mentally checked out of this game very early on.
Heelis also produced a showreel goal which pretty much summed up the gulf between the teams – in terms of style, speed of thought,and quality of execution - as he saw sidestepped Craig Cescon’s check coming, left the defenceman barrelling into the plexi, and danced his way to the net to beat Nie with a final flick of his stick.
That was his second of the night. Just 34 minutes had been played, and Fife, playing their third game in three nights, were home and dry.
The rout started at 12:16 as James Isaacs’ tipped home a Tommy Muir shot from the centre of the blue line, and it was 2-0 at 13:42 as Ricars Birzins picked out Heelis as the back post. With the goal wide open, he had the ridiculously easy task of tapping in.
That goal had its foundations in a glorious steal by Dannick Gauthier in mid-ice – one of many which saw Fife switch the direction of play and put even more pressure on a defence that was simply woeful.
Clan teams of old would have snarled – the leash would have been taken off – and done whatever it took to send a message, and also disrupt Fife’s rhythm.
Oslanski nipped away at Heelis and then Gauthier to no effect, and even a lifeline goal 12 seconds into the second period through Doty, didn’t jump-start the engine.
With 21 shots in the second period, it was no surprise to see Fife restore their two goal lead and then break the game open with ridiculous ease – and in some style too.
Bloodoff made it 3-1 on the powerplay and then delivered the perfect finish to a great set up from Heelis for 4-1.
Then came his showreel goal for five and Fife were pretty much home and dry with just 34 minutes played.
Perhaps the difference in approach was best summed up with Gauthier took a double minor for accidental high sticks early in the third.
Fife’s penalty killing unit turned defence into attack, carving out four remarkable chances. They eased up as the game wound down, played their whole bench, and Cescon’s goal at 56:08 was simply a consolation counter.
Momentum in this head to head is with Fife.
Still some way to go, but every victory solidifies their claim on the conference title.
Fife Flyers 5, Braehead Clan 2
Period scores: 2-0, 3-1, 0-1.
SOGs: Fife (Iles) 27, Braehead (Nie) 50
Flyers scoring: Heelis (2+2), Bloodoff (2+1), Isaacs (1+0), LeBlanc (0+2), Muir, Finucci, Gauthier. Moyer (0+1)
Clan scoring: Doty, Crescon (1+0), Hamalainen, Shattock (0+2)
Referee: Paval Halas