Match Report – Sunday 1st October 2023

The Flyers made a couple of changes to their roster with Anthon Eriksson and Brady Pouteau both rested which meant the first competitive start of the season for Reece Harsch and a Flyers debut for Johan Eriksson. A couple of Flyers were wearing unfamiliar numbers as Shane Owen had #30 and Collin Shirley #18. It was pretty misty around the rink at face off and the Blaze took the lead after just 21 seconds when Kobe Roth got a stick on a goal bound shot and the deflection gave Owen no chance. The Flyers responded almost immediately and at the other end Taran Kozun made his first big stop to deny Troy Lajeunesse. Collin Shirley was next to threaten as he slid the puck narrowly past the post when left all alone in front of the net. The play was wide open at this point and the Flyers deservedly drew level almost on three minutes when Lajeunesse buried the puck after several chances had gone abegging. Kozun made a huge toe save in the 5th minute to deny Lajeunesse who had the after burners on to streak through the Blaze defence. Blaze were awarded the first powerplay of the night but the Flyers penalty kill dealt fairly comfortably with what was thrown at them. Ben Hawerchuk almost got a chance short handed but his breakaway was denied by a scampering Kozun way out of his net. Blaze however retook the lead when they caught the Flyers on an odd man rush and Roth set up James Shearer perfectly to beat Owen. Play didn’t restart until both sets of players had a leisurely skate around the pad to try and clear the fog which thankfully from that point on for the rest of the game wasn’t an issue. Within 60 seconds Brady Norrish deflected the puck onto the post and then Owen had to make a great leg extension save to stop Mitch Cook from adding to the home sides lead. Flyers finished the period on the powerplay but it was Owen who had to make the best save with his blocker to deny Kim Tallberg.

The 30 second carry forward of the Flyers powerplay almost resulted in the Blaze grabbing a third goal but a two goal bulge for the Blaze arrived almost two minutes into the period when floater from the blueline by Alexander Kuqali found the top corner. Fife’s response was immediate and in little over a minute between goals they had the game all tied up. They reduced the leeway to one when as a result of a strong forecheck they won the puck back and worked it over to Ben Hawerchuk who showed great patience to go five hole on Kozun. Moments later and Johan Eriksson drove in from the left wing and his shot rebounded from the pads of the Blaze goalie and the big Swede followed up to pick the top corner from the slot. Alessio Luciani was next to threaten when he was in all alone but he slid the puck past Owen’s post. Max Humitz was then robbed at point blank range by a glove save by Kozun. Blaze went back on the powerplay but it was the visitors through Shirley who almost snatched the lead but he scooped the puck over the bar when bearing down on the Blaze goal.  Tallberg was denied twice inside 20 seconds by a kick save then a blocker stop by Owen. Blaze retook the lead when Ian McNulty fired the puck in from an acute angle and it found a gap between the near post and Owen’s pads. Fife levelled again however in the final minute of the period and again it was Eriksson with a composed finish as he roofed the puck.

Anyone’s game in a wide open contest going into the third period and the go ahead goal almost fell for the Flyers two minutes in but Reece Harsch was robbed with an open goal at his mercy as the puck bobbled over his stick. With the Flyers on a man advantage Max Humitz with an absolute bomb rang the bar a few minutes later before the Flyers went back on the penalty kill. Blaze got nothing going on their powerplay and the game by this stage had noticeably fewer chances and looked to be drifting towards overtime before the visitors stunned their hosts. Troy Lajeunesse out on the left wing half boards got the puck to the net and somehow it found the twine with Kozun looking stunned as we entered the final two minutes. With 90 seconds to play and a face off in the Flyers zone the Blaze called a time out and inevitably withdrew Kozun for the extra skater. The Flyers who were second for most of the night at the face off dot came up big with Lajeunesse winning a couple of draws and eventually they forced the puck into neutral ice where Kyle Osterberg collected it and held off his marker to skate the puck down the ice and into the empty cage to seal an impressive road win and get the Flyers league campaign off to a positive start.

The Flyers are next at home on Saturday 7th October when they entertain the Dundee Stars  – tickets can be bought online here:  Tickets – Fife Flyers or look out on social media channels for box office opening times.