Tough test as Fife Flyers head to Nottingham

Ned Lukacevic, a key player for Flyers tonight.
Ned Lukacevic, a key player for Flyers tonight.

Fife Flyers head south tonight on cup duty - and face an uphill challenge against Nottingham Panthers.

A place in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup is the prize on offer, and to get there, Flyers need to overturn a five-goal deficit.

They lost the first leg 7-2 on home ice, a result that placed a huge question mark over their hopes of a place in the final four.

Flyers hit the road minus the suspended Matt Nickerson - he returns to the ice for the home league game against Edinburgh on Sunday.

His physical presence galvanises the team, and his absence will be felt.

Flyers hopes rest on the entire bench digging deep to reproduce the form which sparked a stunning 5-1 win in Nottingham earlier this season.

It’s a tall order, and the team will look to key players such as Jordan Fulton, Scott Fleming and Kyle Haines to lead by example.

Fulton grabbed a hat-trick in Sunday’s 8-5 loss in Cardiff - a match which saw Fleming record stats of 1+4.

Those are the sort of returns needed to make inroads on Panthers’ lead, but it remains a huge ask against a side that has rediscovered its form after a very ropey spell. An early goal - maybe even two - are vital, but Fife cannot simply chase the game and leave themselves wide open to counter-attacks.

Danny Stewart, assistant coach, said: ‘‘Not many teams will score five goals in Cardiff this year - and we need to continue with that production.

‘‘Wednesday is a big test. We proved we can win in that rink but to overcome a five goal deficit won’t be easy.

‘’We can’t get caught up in the score. We will go there and play a period at a time, hope to win all three and claw our way back.’’

Panthers will iced without the injured David Clarke and defenceman Sam Oakford. Starting netminder Craig Kowalski is back in training.

The game has a 7.30 p.m. face-off.