Match Report – Friday 22nd December 2023

Fife Flyers travelled for the first time this season in league action to meet the Belfast Giants. Injuries and illness once again depleted their line up with Stephen Desrocher and Collin Shirley recently sidelined. Also missing was Anthon Eriksson but on the plus side Fynn Page and Johan Eriksson both returned to the lineup. The Giants, who now appear to be coming through the other side of their injury woes were still without Mark Garside through long term injury with captain Mark Cooper, Ciaran Long and Henrik Eriksson also missing and Johnny Curran a game time healthy scratch.

It was the visitors who had the first shot of the game when Kyle Osterberg threw one in on Tyler Beskorowany after 30 seconds who sticked it away. The Giants threatened in the 3rd minute on a 2 on 1 break and Shane Owen did well to stop Ara Nazarian. A minute later and the Fife netminder had a comfortable save from a Daniel Tedesco attempt. The Giants went on the game’s first powerplay in the 6th minute and they got absolutely nothing set up. Midway through the powerplay the Flyers threated on a shorthanded 2 on 1 with Troy Lajeunesse and Teemu Pulkkinen and as the penalty was about to expire the Flyers did make the breakthrough with a short handed goal when Lucas Chiodo broke in all alone from the Giants blueline and deked Beskorowany to net. The Giants responded in the 11th minute after a long cycle had  maintained the puck in the Flyers defensive zone that had created a couple of half chances but Daniel Tedesco eventually set up Quinn Preston who had time at the bottom of the circles to pick his spot on a sprawling Shane Owen. The Flyers were next to threaten when Vitalijs Pavlovs showed patience in the high slot looking for an opening on Beskorowany who made a huge stop and the rebound just couldn’t be collected by Kyle Osterberg. Moments later and the Flyers showed great hustle with Max Humitz pressuring the last Giants defenceman to create a chance for Teemu Pulkkinen who buried it past Beskorowany on his glove side. Owen made a solid stop on a Miles Gendron effort from the blueline despite being screened by Oliver Cooper and with two minutes left in the period the Giants were penalised. The Flyers powerplay didn’t have any time to get anything set up when they coughed the puck up on the breakout from their own end and Preston wired the puck past Owen from the high slot on the glove side to level matters. The remainder of the man advantage saw the Flyers unable to get any possession in the Giants end as the period drew to a close.

The opening chance of the middle period fell the way of the Flyers when Pulkkinen from the slot had all sorts of time but Beskorowany made a huge shoulder save before then getting the shaft of his stick on the rebound. The Giants punished the visitors for their missed chance as Preston picked up a loose puck at the Flyers bluelines and weaved his way into the slot to pick the top corner over Owen’s glove. The Flyers were back on the powerplay after 22 minutes and they set up a chance with a nice passage of passing but Vitalijs Pavlovs was denied by a sliding Beskorowany. The Giants were gradually taking control of the period although clear cut chances were hard top come by for them. In the 28th minute Ben Lake whistled a shot wide of Owen. Fynn Page and Brodie Kay were introduced for their first ice time midway through the period but the Giants were still looking the more assertive team. Cameron Pound went for a skate in the Flyers end and Owen had to blocker away his effort. In the 33rd minute Owen made a great stick check on Greg Printz and then covered the puck up in a scramble around his crease. With five minutes of the period remaining the Flyers were caught with a stretch pass and Ara Nazarian stole in behind their defence and his shot from the circles found the far corner on Owen. In the final minute the Flyers got some down low pressure and Osterberg tested Beskorowany but he made a pad save to retain the Giants two goal lead.

Into the third period and in the 43rd minute Owen fought off an effort from Charlie Curti as play was generally scrappy from both teams in the opening half of the session. Nazarian dangled his way through from centre ice in the 49th minute but ran out of space to squeeze the puck past Owen and Johan Eriksson completed the clearance. The Flyers caught a huge break in the 51st minute when Kohei Sato missed a wide open net. With five minutes remaining the Giants went on the powerplay and called a time out to start it. Daniel Tedesco rang a post but after a period of sustained pressure Ben Lake set up Nazarian just as the penalty was about to expire for a slam dunk at the back post to add a fifth goal for the Giants. With two minutes to go Sato again passed up a chance when he whiffed on the puck at the top of Owen’s crease before he set up Tedesco but Owen made a solid save as the game drew to a conclusion.

The Flyers are next at home on Saturday 23rd December when they entertain the Belfast Giants – tickets can be bought online here:  Tickets – Fife Flyers or look out on social media channels for box office opening times.