Match Report – Saturday 14th October 2023

Fife Flyers entertained the Belfast Giants in their first league meeting of the season after the teams met 24 hours earlier in Belfast in Challenge Cup action. The Flyers scratched Casey Gilling and Brady Pouteau and returning to the line up was Ben Hawerchuk and Reece Harsch. Young Ben Keddie took on the back up duties. For the Giants they welcomed back Greg Printz after suspension and dropping out were Matt McLeod and Oliver Cooper.

It was another high tempo start to the game and the Flyers had the early opportunity to take the initiative when they went on the powerplay after three minutes. Kyle Osterberg saw a huge slapshot turned away by Tyler Beskorowany and almost on the expiration of the penalty the Giants came close to sneaking one short handed as Kohei Sato forced a decent save from Shane Owen.  Quinn Preston was next to threaten the Fife goal as he sped into the Flyers zone but Owen came up big again. In the 12th minute Johnny Curran was denied when he tried his luck from the bottom of the circles. Fife got their second powerplay in the 17th minute which the Giants comfortably killed. With just a few seconds left until the buzzer Stephen Desrocher looked skywards as his blast from the slot hit a Giants foot and went wide of goal.

The Flyers were back on the powerplay two minutes into the second period and as the penalty was winding down Collin Shirley fed the puck to Teemu Pulkkinen who ripped a wrister high glove on Beskorowany.  Giants hit back and Ara Nazarian almost levelled  with the next couple of efforts but Owen was again his equal. On the half hour mark Troy Lajeunesse let one rip from the tops of the circle but Beskorowany saved. A minute later and the Giants went on their first powerplay of the game. Flyers penalty kill was strong and Owen had a couple of solid stops to maintain the lead for the home side. The Giants were piling on the pressure at this stage and with the long change the Flyers were hemmed into their own zone for much of the final five minutes of the period. They did have chances though as Troy Lajeunesse put one off the mask of Beskorowany and then Johan Eriksson saw an angled shot saved by the right pad of the Giants keeper.

Going into the third period it felt as though the next goal would be crucial. Mark Cooper almost got it for the Giants but a fantastic stick saved denied him and the puck was then scrambled clear. Daniel Tedesco put one off the outside of the post. With Giants pressing the Flyers caught them on a breakaway and Johan Eriksson went in all alone but he fired his shot wide of the net. Moments later however the Auld Barn erupted as Max Humitz made a great pick play to steal the puck and his feed to Lucas Chiodo was dispatched behind Beskorowany. The Giants to their credit kept up the pressure and importantly for them they got a goal back within a couple of minute when Ben Lake was around the crease to scramble the puck past Owen. With ten minutes remaining the Flyers had another powerplay but the Giants kill dealt with it comfortably. An unfortunate break gave the Giants a lifeline with just over four minutes remaining as Max Humitz was called for delay of the game after firing the puck over the glass. The Giants made it count with Mark Cooper one timing a cross slot pass behind Owen who had absolutely no chance to slide over and make the save.

Neither team could conjure up a winner and so the Flyers went to overtime for the first time this season. It was a cagey five minutes with neither side able to dominate and the few chances that were created were dealt comfortably by both goalies. With just 30 seconds remaining the Flyers thought they might have won it when Ben Hawerchuk put the puck on net and Beskorowany appeared to lose it under his pad which when he removed it from the post he looked as though he dragged the puck out from behind the line. A lengthy review of the situation resulted in a no goal call and so we went to a shootout.

Long, Lake, Preston and Nazarian all missed as did Pulkkinen, J Eriksson, Hawerchuk and Lajeunesse which meant we were effectively at sudden death. Mark Cooper took the next Giants shot and he netted glove side on Owen. Kyle Osterberg was then denied by Beskorowany as the Giants took the extra point and retained their 100% record in domestic competition. A valiant effort from the Flyers whose efforts were warmly acknowledged by the crowd.

The Flyers are next at home on Saturday 21st October when they entertain the Guildford Flames   – tickets can be bought online here:  Tickets – Fife Flyers or look out on social media channels for box office opening times.