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Match Report – Sunday 10th December 2023

This was the Steelers first visit to Kirkcaldy this season in what was a top versus bottom of the standings clash.  The Flyers were along the similar lines as the previous night with Brodie Kay also being scratched joining the injured pair of Ben Hawerchuk and Jonas Emmerdahl. The Steelers, who lost in a shootout at home the previous night, were without the injured Sam Jones with Kameron Kielly and goalie Anthony Morrone also scratched.

It was a bright opening to the game for the Flyers who got the first shot on goal after 30 seconds when Aleksi Mäkelä tested Matt Greenfield. Max Humitz had the next chance down low that was stymied and the Steelers countered with a swift breakout and fortunately their effort missed the net. Steelers started to dominate possession and their speed in transition was causing problems and it allowed Scott Allen to find space in the slot but he shot high over the bar.  Flyers came close in the 8th minute when Teemu Pulkkinen had an effort on Greenfield but again Sheffield went the other way in a hurry and Daniel Ciampini couldn’t hit the target when all alone in front of Shane Owen. The visitors went on the first powerplay of the night during which Owen came up with four solid saves before the Flyers returned to full strength. The momentum was definitely with the steelers at this point and a lovely saucer pass found Mikko Juusola streaking in but his tip went over the crossbar before Owen then denied Patrick Watling on the follow up chance. The opening goal came in the 17th minute and perhaps no surprise that it was the Steelers who lit the lamp although it came midway through the Flyers first man advantage of the game. After a dump down the ice by the Steelers to relieve the pressure the Flyers coughed the puck up behind their net allowing Ciampini to feed Allen who was out front of Own and he netted via a post.  Owen did well with a big pad save on Brett Neumann in the final two minutes of the period to keep the Flyers just one goal behind despite being heavily outshot.

In the opening minute of the second period Steelers speed again on the breakout resulted in a 4 on 1 but they fluffed their lines without getting a shot away on Owen. Mitchell Balmas then rang a wrister off the crossbar before Casey Gilling replied at the other end. In the 24th minute Kyle Osterberg stole in behind the Sheffield defence but just lost the handle on the puck at the last moment. A minute later and the Steelers increased their advantage when Watling sniped one stick side on Owen. Within 62 seconds however the Flyers responded with their first goal of the game when on a delayed penalty call Troy Lajeunesse fired the puck through Greenfield’s five hole. This lifted the crowd and the Flyers responded in kind and had their best spell of the game as they carried a greater threat offensively. That worked out for them in the 32nd minute when Collin Shirley gave Max Humtiz an inch perfect pass onto his stick and his instant release beat Greenfield. Having clawed their way back into the game the Flyers hard work was undone again with two goals in as many minutes before the buzzer. Juusola snapped in a rebound from a Watling shot and then a very lucky bounce off the base of the goal frame saw Robert Dowds shot bounce out in front of Owen when it could easily have spun in behind the net and Josh Nicholls who was driving the net poked the puck home. Just on the buzzer Osterberg threw another sauce pass to Sean Giles but the defenceman up on the rush just couldn’t get it under control as he broke in alone on Greenfield.

In the third period the Flyers changed up their defensive rotation with Teemu Pulkkinen being inserted back in the forward line and Casey Gilling dropping back. Mitchell Balmas had the first chance from an angle but he lifted the puck over the bar. Owen then made a strong block on Mark Simpson and Neumann missed the net with another chance. Steelers had a chance to salt the game away when a couple of penalties saw them with a 5 on 3 advantage for a minute. Apart from a blast from Watling they appeared to be looking for the perfect opening as they passed and passed the puck around and the Flyers completed a huge kill. Fife had their own powerplay in the 51st minute and Anthon Eriksson was very close to stuffing the puck home as it bobbled and bounced around Greenfield in his crease. With the Steelers back at full strength a goal did finally come for the Flyers after a huge scramble around the crease with Vitalijs Pavlovs getting the vital touch. Flyers had the momentum now and were pushing for the tying goal when referee Craig called a penalty against them for Unsportsmanlike Conduct. First order of the day was to kill the penalty which they did, leaving just under two minutes to get the equaliser. Despite pulling Owen and calling a timeout the Flyers just couldn’t find that break to get a clear cut chance that their efforts more than deserved.

The Flyers are next at home on Sunday 17th December when they entertain the Cardiff Devils – 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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