Match Report – Sunday 22nd October 2023

The Fife Flyers first trip of the season down to Sheffield where they were looking for their first win since October 2018. Teemu Pulkkinen dropped out of the line up after injury in last night’s game and he was joined by Brady Pouteau on rotation as both Casey Gilling and Reece Harsch were brought back onto the bench. Also missing were James Spence and Brodie Kay. The Steelers who started the night at the top of the league were looking to extend that lead to four points and were at full strength choosing to start Matt Greenfield and scratch Anthony Morrone along with Kameron Kielly.

Steelers started the game on the offensive and Patrick Watling almost opened the scoring in 70 seconds when his tip trickled just past the post but 30 seconds later Sheffield had the opener when Matt Petgrave jumped in from the blueline and after some slick passing the puck landed on his stick in the slot and he gave Shane Owen no chance. In the next shift the Flyers lost Lucas Chiodo who had to retire to the room with a facial cut after being hit by the puck, there was a delay as the zamboni was called on to the ice to remove the blood. Owen made a great sprawling save in the 4th minute to deny Robert Dowd and moments later the Flyers made their first half chance but Johan Eriksson couldn’t get a handle on the puck close in on Greenfield. The Steelers went on the first powerplay of the afternoon in the 6th minute but despite spending the entire two minutes in the Flyers zone their only dangerous chance was a Brett Neumann tip well tracked by Owen. Stephen Desrocher came out of the box and had a breakaway in on Matt Greenfield in the Steelers goal but he couldn’t beat him on the backhand. In the 9th minute the Steelers doubled their lead when a backhand giveaway by Max Humitz in his own end landed on the stick of Mikko Juusola in the slot and he gave Owen no chance. A little under three minutes later and the same player was on hand to finish a fine passing move as the Steelers continued to dominate on the cycle in the Flyers end and the Finn fired past Owen from the bottom of the circle, another opportunity where the Fife netminder could do nothing to prevent a goal. In the 15th minute the Flyers welcomed the patched up Lucas Chiodo back onto the bench but the period played out with Sheffield well in control and Juusola probably thought he had a hat trick as his effort in the final seconds spun over Owen’s shoulder but somehow bounced the other side of the far post.

The Flyers carried much more of the play in the opening minutes of the second period but were still being held at arm’s length by the Steelers despite spending way more time in Sheffield’s defensive zone.  The Steelers went on the powerplay for the second time as we approached the midway point of the game but other than a Petgrave chance saved by Owen the Flyers penalty killers did another good job. Owen denied Josh Nicholls with a blocker save but a fourth goal arrived in the 31st minute and was a result of another turnover by the Flyers defence when Shudra fed the puck to Brandon Whistle to net. A minute later and Matt Greenfield with a strong pad save denied Chiodo who was driving the net. Owen made another athletic save in the 34th minute when he denied Neumann with a fine blocker save and the Flyers then had a 3 on 1 chance which failed to produce a shot on goal as the period ended with the Steelers still well in control and heavily outshooting their visitors.

The Flyers had the first chance two minutes into the final period when Casey Gilling slid his backhand shot wide of the net after a set up by Chiodo.  The pace of the game by now had naturally dropped but the Flyers kept skating and Collin Shirley had a partial breakaway as he and Max Humitz couldn’t beat Greenfield. With six minutes remaining Owen denied Marco-Olivier Vallerand who skated in all alone but the Steelers did add a fifth with as many minutes remaining when a huge slice of bad luck for Fife saw Patrick Watling’s cross crease pass deflect off a Flyers skate and stick and land in the net. The Flyers got their first man advantage of the night with four minutes to go and despite getting set up they couldn’t fashion any clear cut chances and it was Steeler’s Petgrave at the end of the kill who almost struck short handed when he deked Owen but backhanded the puck off the outside of the post. The Flyers were on the penalty kill for the final 26 seconds of the match but there was no further scoring.

The Flyers are next at home on Sunday 29th October when they entertain the Sheffield Steelers   – tickets can be bought online here:  Tickets – Fife Flyers or look out on social media channels for box office opening times.