Another winnable game is lost, point seep out the door, and the sense of frustration builds once more around the Fife Flyers’ dressing-room.
The conference title may still be there, but right now it’s a spec on the horizon.
Fife trail leaders Braehead Clan by 11 points. Their three games in hand won’t chisel much off that deficit, which makes tonight’s 4-1 loss harder to bear.
In truth, Clan were little more than average, and, at 2-1, were there for the taking as their discipline started to unravel on Fife ice once again.
Ryan Finnerty ought to be sending a Christmas card and a bottle of malt to Fife, with a wee note thanking them for keeping him in a job.
The points culled in the Kingdom covered up his own fans’ unhappiness at their wholly inconsistent form and poor league standing for another week at least.
For Flyers, it was a one point weekend. They needed so much more than that to re-ignite their conference aspirations.
Their opening period felt muddled and a bit disjointed, but they finally found their tempo in the second.
They created chances, produced some top drawer penalty killing but, once again, were impotent on the powerplay.
Once again they lost an early goal, Mike Hammond netting off a Corey Cowick pass on the counter attack at 3:18.
Fife were back on level terms in 25 minutes as Carlo Finnuci drilled a shot home through traffic from the middle of the Clan zone before things kicked off after a cheap dig at James Isaacs on the plexi saw him react mid ice.
The Fife forward started scrapping as everyone piled in. Clan defenceman Kyle Wharton barrelled in as third man, arms flaying everywhere, while Josh Scoon and Callum Boyd tied up amid the melee.
Referee Neil Wilson ejected Isaacs on a five plus game for a high sticks and five for fighting which handed Clan an extended powerplay. Wharton walked on five plus game for fighting and a misconduct for being third man in.
With the fans in full flight, Fife killed the penalty and then Corey Cowick made a dreadful hit on Finucci, resulting in a 2+10 for checking to the head; a penalty that will earn him an automatic review by DOPS.
Phil Paquet squared up to him, and the Clan man hit the ice as if he’d been assassinated, with the Fife player clearly indicating a dive as he sat out a minor for unsportsmanlike conduct.
As Clan’s fragile discipline fragmented, the game was there for the taking, but they held out and took a 2-1 lead into the second break.
As Fife chased the game in the third, they then put it beyond them with two decisive goals.
It was 3-1 as Fife saw defenceman Russ Moyer go down injured next to the plexi. The referee let play go on, and Zach Sullivan used the space to drill home from inside the blue line.
Moyer’s fury at the official saw him sit for ten minutes after slamming his stick into the plexi.
It was 4-1, and game over, before he returned to the ice as MoM Alex Leavitt netted the rebound off a shot from Jay Rosehill at 49:09.
A frustrating night for Flyers as they hit the ice minus Sebastien Thinel, the latest player sidelined by injury. A broken hand is likely to see him out for some time.