Fife Flyers with Reece Harsch and Johan Eriksson as scratches handed competitive debuts to 14 players as they travelled West to meet the Glasgow Clan in the opening Challenge Cup match for both sides.
The opening four minutes were punctuated by a number of icings with neither side able to take control of the game. Shane Owen made the first important stop of the period when he denied Luke Lynch on the doorstep in the 7th minute. Thirty seconds later and Clan went on the powerplay when Collin Shirley was called for a trip on Philippe Sanche. Despite the Flyers creating a shorthanded chance when Troy Lajeunesse forced a kick save from Jake Kielly at the other end Shane Owen made six saves and there was a huge shot block as the Flyers killed the penalty. Robert Lachowicz was next to threaten halfway through the period but Owen stood tall again before the Fife net had a narrow escape with Owen drawn out of position forcing Jonas Emmerdahl to take a slashing call. Once again the Flyers fashioned a shorthanded chance when Casey Gilling saw his effort shouldered over the bar by Kielly whilst it was a much quieter kill this time for Shane Owen. Back at even strength Kielly produced a double kick save to deny Max Humitz and Adam Holwell before the Flyers got their first man advantage of the night. Clan were successful on the kill and the last chance of the period fell to Sanche who missed the net with a wrister from the top of the slot.
The second period started at a frantic pace and inside the opening 30 seconds both sides had chances. 90 seconds in and the Flyers goal somehow survived as both Dyson Stevenson and Gary Haden saw their opportunities scrambled clear. Clan went on their third powerplay of the game shortly after which Fife comfortably killed and midway through the period the Flyers were also given a man advantage but couldn’t really get set up in the Clan zone as the game remained scoreless. In the 33rd minute Stevenson had a great chance but Owen denied him getting a piece of his catching glove on the puck to deflect it wide of goal. The opening goal however finally came in the 34th minute when Nate Kallen provided a neat finish to a cross ice pass from Zach Vinnell. Fife soon went back on the powerplay but the best chance was created by Glasgow as Stevenson and Robert Lachowicz broke 2 on 1 but Owen came up with another huge stop. Kielly then spilled a Stephen Desrocher shot before the puck was cleared and the Flyers advantage was negated by Holwell’s second visit of the period to the box. Troy Lajeunesse almost jammed one home shorthanded as the Flyers killed the penalty to end the period.
Fife were soon on the penalty kill again early in the final period and got the job done but two goals in a 90 second spell for the Clan put them well in control midway through the period. Stevenson got the first when he showed good hands close in to deke Owen and last season’s top scorer for Clan, Gary Haden, added a powerplay marker as Owen could do nothing going post to post to stop him with Holwell once again in the box. Shortly after Clan hit their own penalty trouble leaving the Flyers with almost 90 seconds of 5 on 3 but the visitors could not create any clear cut chances as both penalties were successfully killed. With six minutes remaining Kielly came way out of his crease to hold a Desrocher drive and seconds later the Clan keeper made a marvellous blocker save to deny Teemu Pulkkinen. Another Fife powerplay in the final five minutes couldn’t solve Kielly’s shutout bid although Fife did spend more time in the Clan zone without creating any dangerous chances. With a little over a minute to play Clan added a fourth when Darien Craighead broke away to net.
The Flyers are next at home on Sunday 24th September when they entertain the Glasgow Clan – tickets can be bought online here: Tickets – Fife Flyers or look out on social media channels for box office opening times.