Match Report – Saturday 23rd December 2023

The Fife Flyers back on home ice were along exactly the same lines as they were the night before in Belfast as they were still missing the injured pair of Stephen Desrocher and Collin Shirley with the confirmation earlier in the day of the release of Anthon Eriksson. The Giants similarly listed the same line up with the game time scratch this time being Travis Brown.

It was a fairly cagey opening to the game from both sides as they prodded and probed for the first chances and neither goalie saw any serious work in the opening minutes. The Giants took the first penalty of the night after a long delayed call saw the Flyers with the extra skater create a few half chances around the Belfast net. Flyers best chance on the man advantage fell to Johan Eriksson whose one timer was kicked away by Tyler Beskorowany. The chances were few and far between as the sides returned to even strength and it was the Flyers in the 10th minute of the game who came closest again and once more it was Eriksson who unfortunately whiffed on the puck at the back post after tenacious digging by Kyle Osterberg set up the chance. The Giants responded a minute later when Sean Norris fired just wide with the aid of a deflection and a couple of minutes later Greg Printz stepped in off the half boards and drove the net before sliding his shot just wide of the far post. The Giants were next on the powerplay but it was a very strong kill by the Flyers who sent the visitors back down the ice on a number of occasions. Soon after the Flyers returned to full strength the Giants were then a man short but they too were strong on their penalty kill as the home side got mothing clean set up. The Flyers almost snatched the opening goal in the final minute of the period when Lucas Chiodo found the puck on his stick in the slot and his effort just glanced the outside of the post.

Flyers tested Beskorowany in the opening seconds of the middle period when Kyle Osterberg was in too tight to the Belfast goalie who made a solid stop. Belfast then brought Shane Owen into action and he had a big shoulder save on Cameron Pound and thirty seconds later the Flyers survived a scramble around their net as Giants pushed for the opening goal. In the 27th minute it was the Flyers however who were closest again when Chiodo set up James Spence but he was inches away from tapping the puck home at the post with Beskorowany sprawling and on the follow up Chiodo was just wide with an effort with the Giants netminder out of position. Midway through the period the teams skated 5 on 5 after a couple of offsetting roughing penalties following a huge hit by Brady Pouteau that drew some attention. Soon afterwards the Giants went on the powerplay and as the penalty was expiring the Giants thought they had taken the lead when a Charlie Curti shot from up top found its way into the net with a couple of Giants players screening Owen. The play was reviewed and the goal washed out as a result of the contact on the Fife keeper. Giants kept pressing and Daniel Tedesco saw his effort deflected over by Owen’s shoulder. The Giants were back on the powerplay in the 33rd minute and after controlling the puck from the face off they worked an angle where the puck fell nicely for Oliver Cooper to score from the top of the crease. Flyers response however was immediate and less than 20 seconds later they were level as a sweeping move saw Osterberg carry the puck down the right wing and dish it to Troy Lajeunesse who gave Beskorowany no chance with his finish. Owen then denied Printz and right on the buzzer Max Humitz was unfortunate to have the puck bounce over the blade of his stick with the net gaping.

The Giants who already appeared to have lost the services of Ara Nazarian earlier in the game then lost Miles Gendron to injury at the start of the third period. It went from bad to worse for the visitors when the Flyers took the lead three minutes in with a fantastic solo goal by Osterberg who skated in from the red line and took the puck to the net before sliding it through Beskorowany’s legs on the backhand. Owen made a good pad save from Printz before the Flyers penned the Giants into their own end with chances falling for Chiodo, Humitz and Vitalijs Pavlovs before Beskorowany who was swimming around got a stoppage in play when he held a drive from  Aleksi Mäkelä. With nine minutes remaining Belfast were back on the powerplay and the Giants controlled the puck for large spells and with just a few ticks left on their man advantage they finally found a killer pass that set up Cooper at the back post to level the game. Giants had the chance to win the game on another powerplay with under five minutes to play but another huge kill by the Flyers kept the game level before the Giants hit penalty trouble in the final three minutes when they were called for two penalties giving Fife a 5 on 3 for a minute. Beskorowany was lights out from this point onwards in the game. He blocked a laser of a shot from Lajeunesse then denied Eriksson by sliding post to post as regulation time expired with the Flyers still on the powerplay.

Before the teams started the overtime period the Flyers had to replace Owen in net due to injury with Andy Little for his first action of the season.  Flyers pretty much played the whole of the overtime period with the man advantage and Beskorowany stood on his head with a particularly spectacular save to deny Teemu Pulkkinen. Andy Little was clattered into by Quinn Preston which drew another penalty but fortunately was able to continue. The Flyers were twice denied by great saves before the buzzer took us to a shootout.

Ben Lake scored and Max Humitz matched him. Matt McLead and Jeff Baum had their efforts saved by Little as did Lajeunesse and Chiodo by Beskorowany. Bobby MacIntyre and Cooper scored as did Eriksson but Max Humitz was denied as the Giants took the extra point.

The Flyers are next at home on Tuesday 26th December when they entertain the Dundee Stars – tickets can be bought online here:  Tickets – Fife Flyers or look out on social media channels for box office opening times.