The Flyers and Flames were meeting for the very first time in Challenge Cup action in this the first leg of their Quarter Final tie. Fife welcomed back Kyle Osterberg and Anthon Eriksson back into the lineup, still missing were Ben Hawerchuk, Johan Eriksson and Fynn Page and the trio were joined by captain Jonas Emmerdahl who missed his first game of the season and confined to bench duties. The Flames had Alex Yuill and Ryan Hughes as scratches so ice both of their non homegrown goalies with Eamon McAdam getting the start.
Two minutes into the game and the first meaningful shot went the way of the Flames when Patrick Bajkov tested Shane Owen. A minute later and the Flyers got Flames goalie Eamon McAdam into the game when Vitalijs Pavlovs put a backhand on net which was gloved. Flames however snatched the lead moments later when their speed on the rush saw them gain the zone and a flighted cross ice pass was tipped by Peter Crinella with Owen moving slightly to his right and the puck slithering under his left pad and into the net. The Flyers responded when Teemu Pulkkinen got a shot away close in on the Flames net but McAdam was able to block his effort and once again the Flames in a lightning quick breakout had Flyers in trouble and with a 2 on 1 into the Fife zone Bajkov picked the top corner glove side on Owen with the game a little over five minutes old. The Flyers were having difficulty with Flames speed both in their transition and also their forecheck and when Ryan Tait broke through he tried to pick out Austin Glover with a pass that just failed to connect otherwise it would have been a tap in to an empty net. That let off was punished 30 seconds later as the Flyers got on the board when Collin Shirley brought the puck out from behind the net and his shot was blocked by McAdam but with the puck lying in the crease Max Humitz poked it home with Pulkkinen also in close attendance. The final chance of the period resulted in another rapid break by the Flames as Tait streaked right through the middle of the Flyers defence and 1 on 1 with Owen he was denied by the Fife netminder.
The second period was two minutes old when McAdam had his best save of the game to deny Kyle Osterberg with a huge glove save. Fife were looking much more lively at this stage but in the 24th minute they were assessed a double minor for high sticking. It was a fairly comfortable kill for them and only in the last 10 seconds did Owen have to make any saves when he stopped a couple of shots in quick succession. Back at even strength Kyle Locke walked in from his defensive spot and Owen had to stand strong and almost immediately at the other end and Anthon Eriksson’s tip was paddled away by McAdam. With Fife much more in the game at this stage they were dealt another blow when Flames increased their lead. The visitors controlled the puck for a spell in the Flyers zone and when Crinella picked up a pass on the half boards he walked off the wall and wristed a shot low glove side on Owen. In the final action of the period Pavlovs hit the outside of the post and Locke forced a solid pad save from Owen.
A minute into the third period and Shane Owen made his best save of the game when he slid across his net to deny Austin Glover. The Flyers then went on their only man advantage of the night and with time running out on the penalty Troy Lajeunesse tested McAdam who produced a snappy glove save. Flames went back on the powerplay in the 48th minute and Owen had to make two big saves from drives by Bradley Lalonde and Bajkov before Glover clanked the post with a follow up effort. Owen was again in action in the 52nd minute gloving a wicked slapshot from the blueline by Lalonde. Flames almost made it four when Sam Talbot got the puck in behind Owen but it slid out the other side of the goal and Brady Pouteau put his body on the line moments later as he blocked a slapshot with his arm. With time running down Teemu Pulkkinen forced a pad save from McAdam with a slapshot and the Flames played out the final 28 seconds of the game on the powerplay to take a two goal advantage home for the second leg next Wednesday evening.
The Flyers are next at home on Sunday 10th December 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.