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Match Report – Saturday 2nd December 2023

The Flyers, without Ben Hawerchuk on injured reserve for the next month, were also down a few more bodies with both Eriksson’s, Anthon and Johan along with Kyle Osterberg and Fynn Page all missing. Drafted in to make his debut on a short term deal was experienced Latvian forward Vitalijs Pavlovs allowing them to ice 14 of the permitted 15 non-homegrown players.  Blaze on the other hand were at full strength and the only decision they had to make was which one of their two non-homegrown goalies would get the start. Taran Kozun got the nod with Nolan Kent not icing.

The Flyers put together a third line of James Spence, Vitalijs Pavlovs and Brady Pouteau playing as an emergency winger. In a fairly quiet opening the first real chance of the game fell to the home side when Taran Kozun got a glove on a drive from the slot by Max Humitz. A few moments later and Jonas Emmerdahl caught the outside of the post with a slapshot from the blueline. Having weathered the early chances created by the Flyers the Blaze then had a prolonged period of zone time in the Flyers end of the ice and eventually Shane Owen settled things down when he gloved the puck. Blaze were pushing the offensive side of the game though at this point and Owen again had to be smart to make another glove save. The Flyers hit back in the 8th minute when Humitz was set up nicely in the slot but again Kozun was able to deny him. The opening goal arrived in the 12th minute after a clean zone entry involving Troy Lajeunesse and Lucas Chiodo who found Casey Gilling and his snapshot caught the top of Kozun’s glove before spinning into the net. A minute later and Collin Shirley tested the Blaze keeper with a wrister which was well saved and then the first penalty of the evening was called putting the Blaze on the powerplay. The visitors had a lot of possession in the Flyers end with their man advantage but were pretty much kept to the outside with a notable shot block coming from Jonas Emmerdahl. Just as the Flyers returned to full strength Owen made a huge glove save to deny Blake Thompson an equalizer. The Flyers had played the last 8 minutes or so of the period without Sean Giles who twice had the blade come loose from his skate and he went to the room for repairs returning just as the buzzer sounded.

14 seconds into the middle period and the Flyers had their first man advantage of the night. It was a good looking powerplay with lots of crisp passing but generated little to trouble Kozun as the Blaze returned to full strength. In the 24th minute the Flyers doubled their lead with a goal that had some good fortune attached to it. Sean Giles took the shot from long distance which missed the net but the bounce off the backboards saw the puck hit the back of Kozuns skate as he knocked it into his net. Debutant Pavlovs picked up his first point with the secondary assist. The Blaze hit back however just 35 seconds later when the Flyers failed to clear their zone and Brady Norris stole the puck to feed JD Dudek who was all alone in front of Owen and he dangled the puck to beat the Flyers netminder.  The Blaze were on the powerplay 20 seconds later with a chance to tie the game but the Fife penalty kill was very good as they denied the Blaze a single shot on goal.  The remainder of the period was a scrappy affair with neither team really able to assert any momentum with a lot of one and done rushes each way.

Into the third period and the Flyers looked lively in the opening few shits with Teemu Pulkkinen bringing out a solid save from Kozun. A minutes later however and Ian McNulty stepped into a puck and his drive brought out a good pad save from Owen. There were signs that the Blaze were starting to build momentum and McNulty was twice denied  in the 46th minute but moments later the visitors pressure told as Danny Kristo skated in from the left boards and his shot was tipped past Owen by Kobe Roth. The Flyers missed a big chance a couple of minutes later when Pavlovs set up Pouteau who whiffed on his shot with the goal gaping. The visitors could sense an opportunity and they kept pressing and following a spell of pressure in the Fife end along with a favorable bounce the puck fell for Alexander Kuqali who wired one high past Owen from just inside the blueline. With eight minutes remaining the Flyers had it all to do to get back into the match but there was little to trouble Kozun and in their desperation to get back on level terms they had Owen to thank for bailing them out after being caught with all five players pressing the Coventry goal. Brady Norrish broke up ice  and with back pressure from Pavlovs Owen shut him down on the breakaway. With a little under three minutes remaining the Flyers went on their second powerplay of the game and again they had some nice possession but could not find the killer chance. Midway through Owen was called to the bench for the extra skater and almost immediately the Blaze won possession in their own end with Alessio Luciani spinning and firing the puck the length of the ice to find the empty net.

The Flyers are next at home on Wednesday 6th December 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.

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