Match Report – Saturday 18th November 2023

The Flyers with a fully healthy roster scratched Anthon Eriksson, who was scratched on the Flyers last visit to Coventry. Brodie Kay was also missing along with both Fynn Page and Stephen Desrocher who missed their first games of the season. Returning to the lineup was Teemu Pulkkinen after missing the last four games through injury and Reece Harsch was also back in. For Blaze only non-homegrown goalie Nolan Kent missed out with fellow Canadian Taran Kozun getting the start in net.

Flyers would have been hoping to get a better start to the game than on their last visit when they coughed up the first goal in 21 seconds, lightning struck twice as the Blaze this time only took 20 seconds to take the lead when JD Dudek took the puck around the back of the net before skating out into the slot and picking his spot past Shane Owen. Flyers had to weather a Blaze onslaught for the next four minutes as they struggled to contain the Blaze in their own defensive zone and were not seen as an attacking threat. Owen in that time came up with three solid saves and it was midway through the fifth minute that the Flyers registered their first shot of the night when Taran Kozun comfortably dealt with a Max Humitz effort. The visitors however clearly were now starting to find their legs and in the 6th minute Humitz almost connected with Lucas Chiodo who was standing at the side of the net but the puck slither wide and 30 seconds later Casey Gilling had a close in shot padded away by the Coventry keeper. Play was fairly even now but Fife created the slightly better opportunities and on the 12th minute Teemu Pulkkinen was denied when once again Kozun was sharp with the Flyer around his crease and moments later Sean Giles had a low shot on the stick side turned away. Jonas Emmerdahl had a clear sight of goal as he skated unmarked into the high slot but his shot was straight into Kozun’s catcher. The first power play of the game went the way of the Blaze in the 14th minute and started with Owen saving a Brady Norrish shot before Pulkkinen carried the puck up the right wing and he hit a streaking Ben Hawerchuk with a pass who found the back of the net with Kozun desperately trying to get across to make the save. Blaze did little with the rest of their man advantage until the final few seconds when Owen came up with a huge save to deny Ian McNulty and he followed that up when the teams returned to even strength when he shut down a Kim Tallberg effort. Flyers went on the powerplay with a little over two minutes remaining in the period and they were all over the Blaze for the first 90 seconds as they created havoc in the Coventry zone with some tidy puck possession. A couple of very good chances were denied before the Blaze were able to send the puck the length of the ice and kill the rest of the penalty comfortably to leave the game finely balanced.

Ian McNulty 90 seconds into the second period forced a pad save by Owen and the Fife netminder was again called into action in the 23rd minute when he gloved a Kristo effort. Blaze dominated possession for the first ten minutes of the period as they cycled the puck in the Flyers defensive zone for long periods of time. Owen made several solid saves and with the home side carrying the play a goal for the Blaze looked inevitable. In a rare foray into the Blaze end Pulkkinen was robbed by a fantastic toe save by Kozun and a couple of minutes later Owen had his post the thank for the scoreline remaining level. The Flyers hit some penalty trouble in the final few minutes of the period as they took back to back minor penalties. The breakthrough goal came on the first of those man advantages when Danny Kristo powered his was through centre ice and across the bluelines before he unleashed a shot that beat Owen cleanly. The Flyers ended the period midway through another penalty kill.

The Flyers had a minute of a penalty kill to start the final period and did so comfortably but it was the Blaze who continued to press the game after the teams returned to even strength. In the 46th minute came a moment of controversy as the Blaze doubled their advantage. Kuqali carried the puck down the wing and his centering pass was knocked up into the air by Owen and then appeared to be batted back over the Fife netminders head and into the net by a gloved swipe by Alessio Luciani. The Fife bench appealed for the play to be reviewed but this was denied with officials appearing to indicate that they thought that it was a good goal. A couple of minutes later the Flyers went back on the powerplay and Sean Giles made a tremendous defensive play to break up a 2 on 1 short handed bid by the Blaze as the Flyers struggled to get anything set up. Back at even strength the Flyers did get themselves back into the game when a fine play in the corner by Giles saw the puck fed to Osterberg who found Johan Eriksson in front of the net and he quickly snapped the puck past Kozun on the glove side. With three minute remaining McNulty had a huge chance to salt the game away but he missed the net with all sorts of time. A minute later and Owen was lights out to deny Tyler Kirkup. The Flyers pulled Owen with 70 seconds to play and forced a face off in the Blaze zone before calling a time out. It was frantic and there were no clean looks at Kozun for the Flyers as the Blaze finally managed to dump the puck out of their zone and McNulty looked odds on to score into the empty net before a miraculous diving stick from Ben Hawerchuk deflected the puck up into the netting. Owen came back in with a little under 20 seconds remaining but the Flyers won the defensive draw and with just 10 seconds remaining and on their own goal line a  quick up from Giles found Shirley on the Blaze blue line, he looked up and saw Lajeunesse on the right wing in space and found him with a pin point pass, Lajeunesse took a couple of strides towards goal and planted a laser of a shot past Kozun on his stick side with just two seconds remaining.

Into overtime and the first chance fell the way of the Blaze but Tallberg couldn’t finish. Teemu Pulkkinen won the puck below his own goal line, protected it up the boards and suddenly found space to advance into the Blaze zone, he looked up and found Collin Shirley on the rush who kept his cool and calmly lifted the puck over Kozun to cap a remarkable comeback win.

The Flyers are next at home on Sunday 19th November when they entertain the Coventry Blaze – tickets can be bought online here:  Tickets – Fife Flyers or look out on social media channels for box office opening times.