Match Report – Sunday 7th January 2024

Fife Flyers were looking to make it two wins on the weekend as they welcomed the Nottingham Panthers for the first time this season. The Flyers line up saw the return of James Spence and Brodie Kay and Craig Holland was called upon to take on the back up position. For Panthers they were without the suspended Myles McGurty along with Simon Despres, Josh Tetlow and Austin Farley and were looking to snap an eight game losing streak which ties them with Fife for longest this season.

The opening five minutes of the game saw both teams go end to end with the shots generated all from the outside allowing both netminders to get a foothold in the game. The Flyers drew first blood however in the 6th minute when Troy Lajeunesse on a breakout found Vitalijs Pavlovs with all sorts of time as he bore down on Rok Stojanovic who got a piece of the puck but couldn’t keep it out of the net. The Flyers threatened again in the 9th minute when a wonderful through the legs pass by Kyle Osterberg released Lajeunesse but Stojanovic made a solid pad save. The Panthers immediately broke the opposite way and Kevin Lindskoug made his first serious save on the night when he had to go full splits to prevent Tyler Welsh getting the puck into the net at his left hand post. The homeside doubled their advantage in the 13th minute when hard work in front of the net by Teemu Pulkkinen saw him pounce on a loose puck to lift it over the prone Stojanovic. In the 15th minute Lindskoug had a nice stop on Alexander Lunsjo. The first penalty of the game went against the Flyers and with less than two minutes of the period remaining the Panthers hauled themselves right back into the contest as Mathieu Lemay lasered a shot high into the top left hand corner of the net hitting the back bar before bouncing back out.

The Flyers went on the man advantage in the 23rd minute but they couldn’t get anything set up in the Panthers zone. Back at even strength the Flyers increased their lead again when Lajeunesse picked the top corner from distance on Stojanovic’s stick side. Critically within 90 seconds the Panthers pulled a goal back when Otto Nieminen was Johnny on the spot to scoop in a rebound from Lindskoug at the top of his crease.  In the 28th minute Pulkkinen was denied by a fine glove save by the Panthers goalie and a few minutes later Lindskoug flashed the leather to take away a chance for Carl Neill. Lindskoug made a good blocker save to deny Lunsjo but the visitors would not be denied as they levelled the game in the 33rd minute when Hugo Roy took the puck out into the high slot and shot back across goal to find the corner of the net on Lindskoug’s stick side. The Flyers hit back and a nice quick up pass with his skate by Lajeunesse released Max Humitz but Stojanovic turned aside his drive with his stick. With 30 seconds of the period left the Flyers had a lucky escape as Logan Neilson failed to hit the net as Lindskoug was scrambling around in his crease.

The Panthers went back on the powerplay in the opening two minutes of the third period and 14 seconds in the Panthers had the lead when a Lemay shot overpowered Lindskoug who let the puck slip from his glove and trickle into the net. The Panthers were clearly feeling it now and Roy went streaking in on the right wing in the 45th minute but Lindskoug stood his ground. The Flyers were on the powerplay again in the 46th minute and almost immediately from the face off Collin Shirley forced a smart save by Stojanovic. In the last couple of seconds of the powerplay Pulkkinen was stoned by the Panthers keeper who blocked a shot from the top of his crease. The Panthers almost stretched their lead in the 52nd minute when Lemay crashed a shot off the crossbar and it bounced down without going over the line. Lindskoug kept the Flyers alive in the 55th minute when he stopped Stephen Anderson a 2 on 1 break. A minute later and Lucas Chiodo at the side of the net could not direct his tip on target. With 90 seconds to go the Flyers pulled Lindskoug for the extra attacker and the Panthers iced the puck with an attempt at the empty net. The Flyers immediately called a timeout with 66 seconds to go but despite keeping the puck in the Panthers zone they were unable to fashion a grade A chance although Shirley was denied by a toe save from the face off and the Panthers ended their losing streak.

The Flyers are next at home on Saturday 13th January when they entertain the Guildford Flames – tickets can be bought online here:  Tickets – Fife Flyers or look out on social media channels for box office opening times.