Match Report – Saturday 30th December 2023

The Fife Flyers and Glasgow Clan faced off in front of a sold out Braehead Arena, reported afterwards as their highest ever attendance, for the first of a pair of back to back games to round out 2023. This was the Flyers second visit to Glasgow in the league and they were without the injured pair of Shane Owen and Stephen Desrocher but were able to welcome back Collin Shirley to the lineup after missing the last four matches. Unfortunately the paperwork to register the signing of netminder Kevin Lindskoug wasn’t able to be completed in time him for him to ice and in keeping with the Flyers run of fortune lately Drake Pilon arrived in the country this morning only to find that the airline had mislaid his luggage and therefor his equipment, both players were on hand to witness the action. Glasgow were without the injured Philippe Sanche and Michael Pelech and started Jake Kielly in net who had  shut out the Flyers in the opening match of the season.

The Flyers woes of conceding early goals on the road continued with the Clan ahead after just 66 seconds when the visitors coughed up the puck trying to exit the zone and the puck was fed to Gary Haden who was all alone in front of the net and his backhand sent the puck through Andy Little’s five hole. Little was in action again in the 4th minute when he produced a fine leg save to deny Matt Barry who drove his net. The Flyers best effort on goal in the opening half of the period was a strong shot by Jonas Emmerdahl that was sticked away by Kielly. The Flyers were gradually taking control of the match and they created a flurry of chances in the 9th minute when Max Humitz, Teemu Pulkkinen and Brady Pouteau all had shots that were dealt with by the Clan goalie. The Clan responded in the 11th minute when Charlie Combs picked up a stray pass in the neutral zone and as he strode forward into the slot he let a shot rip that cleared the crossbar. Humitz was next to test Kielly as his shot from the high slot was blocked up into the netting. In the 15th minute the Clan goalie was once again called into action as he shutdown a chance for Kyle Osterberg and a minute later Aleksi Mäkelä was denied by Kielly. From the face off the home side survived a net front scramble as both Osterberg and Troy Lajeunesse couldn’t get a touch on a bouncing puck. The period ended with another Fife chance in the final half minute when an Emmerdahl blast was shouldered over by Kielly.

The Clan were quickly on the attack in the middle period and Little did well to turn aside a Jake Bolton drive. The Flyers however were transitioning the puck well as the Clan were content to play a 1-2-2 system and allow Fife time on their breakouts with a minimal forecheck and concentrated instead in clogging up the neutral zone. Fife countered that by playing the puck through the trap and for large spells of the opening five minutes of the period the Flyers held the puck in the Clan zone but without finding a killer finish to their moves. In the 26th minute Nate Kallen had a fierce shot saved by Little and up the other end Eriksson saw Kielly flash a pad to stop his effort. Clan came back the other way and following a scramble around Little’s net the Fife netminder made an important shoulder save on a Dyson Stevenson shot. The first powerplay of the game went the way of the home side midway through the period and the Clan converted with their man advantage. The puck was played down low to Combs who was standing off to the side of the net and he took a step out to create an angle to slide the puck across the crease and into the far corner.  A minute later and the Flyers went on the powerplay and hauled themselves back into the game with a fantastically worked goal. Having won the face off they controlled the puck in the Clan zone for almost a minute before some tic tac toe passing ended with Teemu Pulkkinen delivering a fine finish. In the 37th minute Little was out aggressively to pad away another Bolton blockbuster and in the final seconds the Flyers caught the Clan on a breakaway and with both Humitz and Johan Eriksson bearing down on Kielly the keeper somehow got a pad to the initial shot then took the nets off their moorings to have the play blown dead.

Into the third period and Haden on a fly by the Flyers net saw his tip shot just go wide. In the 43rd minute the Flyers again had a breakaway this time Chiodo getting some daylight between the defenders and Kielly did enough to keep the puck out with claims of a slash on the hands of the Flyers player as he bore down on goal. Humitz then brought out a glove save with a shot from the circles before the Clan went on their second powerplay of the match and once again took full advantage when Craighead took the puck to the net and it rolled underneath Little before Luke Lynch applied the finishing touch into the empty net. Cody Sol was next to test the visiting keeper but Little did well to hold his shot through a number of bodies. Clan went back onto the powerplay with four minutes remaining but the Flyers kill got the job done with their best chance being a Reid Petryk shot which Little made a pad save on. With a little under two minutes remaining the Flyers went on the powerplay and the Flyers called their timeout. As soon as the Flyers won possession of the puck they pulled Little to go 6 on 4 skaters and almost gave up the empty net goal through utter misfortune when Mäkelä had his stick break on the blueline but Lynch missed the yawning cage and the Flyers reentered the Clan zone. There was one big scramble in front of Kielly where Sol took no prisoners with a cross check on Pulkkinen. With the clock ticking down the Flyers tried to keep the puck alive along the boards but Sol from his own circles fired the puck down the ice and with a second remaining he hit the empty net.

The Flyers are next at home on Sunday 31st December when they entertain the Glasgow Clan – tickets can be bought online here:  Tickets – Fife Flyers or look out on social media channels for box office opening times.