Match Report – Saturday 13th January 2024

The Flyers and Flames were meeting for the fourth time in league play this season. Including the two Challenge Cup quarter final games the Flyers were looking for their first win in five games between the sides having shut the Flames out in the first meeting on home ice. For the home side Johan Eriksson returned to the lineup with Shane Owen, Stephen Desrocher, Brodie Kay, James Spence, Fynn Page and Jonas Emmerdahl all missing. The Flyers moved Vitalijs Pavlovs back into defence to help on the rotation of five on the blueline. Flames gave Taz Burman the start in nets with Eamon McAdam scratched along with Alex Yuill, Ryan Hughes and Sam Talbot.

It was a bright start to the game from both sides and the Flyers had the first shot of the game after 40 seconds when Kyle Osterberg fired one in from the blueline that Taz Burman sticked away. Teemu Pulkkinen was next to threaten in the 4th minute as he weaved his way into the zone and his high shot was held by Burman. The home side got their reward for a good start when in the 6th minute a quick pass up from Troy Lajeunesse found Drake Pilon who let a snapshot go and it found a way through Burman for his first Flyers goal. Flyers continued to look dangerous and in the 11th minute a two on one saw Lajeunesse test the keeper but the Flames immediately broke the other way and Kevin Lindskoug had his first serious save of the night.  Pulkkinen tried to stuff the puck past Burman moments later but it was Lindskoug in the 14th minute that kept the Flyers ahead when he absolutely stoned Matt Alvaro. At the other end in the 17th minute Pulkkinen rattled the puck off the face mask of the Flames goalie who in the final minute of the period managed to blocker the puck away after another odd man break by the Flyers when Lajeunesse was set up by Osterberg for the shot. It was a fast open first period and despite their lack of clear cut chances the Flames had shown signs of growing into the game in the latter stages with the Flyers lead a slender one.

The second period started with some concerted pressure by the visitors as they hemmed the Flyers into their own end for much of the opening 90 seconds or so. The Flyers when they did breakout missed another chance when Johan Eriksson followed up his shot which rebounded from the backboards and he slithered the puck across goal from a tight angle with Burman out of position. Brady Pouteau forced a snappy glove save from Burman in the 24th minute. Flames who had been more dangerous this period leveled the game in the 27th minute following a rebound from Lindskoug and Matt Alvaro fed Patrick Bajkov the puck who netted from close range. Less than three minutes later and the Flames were ahead when Ben O’Connor swatted the puck out of the air in the neutral zone and he set the Flames up the other way before going to the net and getting a return to finish nicely. The Flyers responded immediately with a smartly worked goal which ended in a Collin Shirley pass finding Max Humitz bearing in on Burman and he gave the goalie no chance to level the game again just 30 seconds after going behind. The first penalty of the evening went against the Flyers in the 31st minute and despite the Flames dominating possession of the puck in the Flyers zone all of their chances came from the outside and the home side returned to full strength unscathed. With three minutes left in the period Eriksson got the puck across the goal face to Lucas Chiodo who couldn’t get a connection on it with a lot of the net showing. The Flyers then had their first and only powerplay of the night and their best chance came following a wonderful tic tac toe passing move which ended on the stick of Pulkkinen and Burman made the save of the game to deny him.

Into the third period and what had been an even game to that point started to drift towards the Flames who had most of the momentum. They had another powerplay chance five minutes in with Lindskoug doing really well to prevent Alvaro giving the visitors the lead again. Back at even strength the Flames continued to press and as the period wore on all of the key saves were coming from the Fife goalie as the Flyers couldn’t spend any length of time in the Guildford zone. The Flyers were showing great determination however in their own end and there were huge blocks in the closing minutes of the game from Lajeunesse and Pavlovs. The best chance of the period fell the way of the Flyers with just a couple of minute remaining when Casey Gilling fed the puck across the slot and Eriksson with the goal at his mercy sailed the puck over the crossbar.

Overtime was to decide this one and the Flames got the job done 63 seconds in after they had controlled pretty much all of the play and the speed of Ryan Tait up the right wing caught the Flyers on an odd man rush and O’Connor was up on the play to bury the puck for the extra point.

The Flyers are next at home on Saturday 20th January when they entertain the Sheffield Steelers – tickets can be bought online here:  Tickets – Fife Flyers or look out on social media channels for box office opening times.