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Match Report – Saturday 20th January 2024

This was the second visit of the season for the Steelers to Kirkcaldy and the Yorkshire side were riding a run of 14 consecutive wins not to mention having a 100% record so far this season on the road with 18 wins from 18. The Flyers were still without the injured trio of Shane Owen, Stephen Desrocher and Jonas Emmerdahl with Aleksi Mäkelä also missing his first game of the season. Once again Vitalijs Pavlovs was drafted into defence. The Steelers scratches were Zach Vinnell, Kameron Kielly and Finlay Ulrick and they welcomed Sam Jones back into the lineup after long term injury.

In a bright opening to the game the Flyers had the first effort on net after 30 seconds when Kyle Osterberg tested Matt Greenfield who covered the puck up. Kevin Lindskoug was soon called into action when he did well to snag a backhand effort from Mitchell Balmas. The visitors went on an early powerplay in the 3rd minute and Lindskoug was looking sharp with three decent saves during the successful kill. The Flyers threatened the Sheffield goal again in the 7th minute when Teemu Pulkkinen played in Max Humitz but Greenfield was square to the shooter and was able to swallow the puck. The opening goal in the 9th minute was the result of good puck pressure in the Sheffield end with Lucas Chiodo creating a rebound from Greenfield and Casey Gilling was able to find a wide open net from the angle to give the Flyers the all important first goal. Sheffield were quick in transition and in the 12th minute Brett Neumann tested Lindskoug twice in quick succession with the Fife netminder getting a pad on his first effort and then a glove save to preserve the lead. Chiodo had a breakaway in the 13th minute but was shutdown by Greenfield as he ran out of space to get a clean shot away. Troy Lajeunesse forced a pad save a minute later but Sheffield were quickly down the other way and Mark Simpson was all alone at the top of Lindskoug’s crease but the netminder took all the space away to keep the puck out. Flyers went on the man advantage in the 17th minute and they created a couple of good looks but failed to add to their lead at the end of the first period.

The Flyers were quickly out of the traps to start the middle period when Lajeunesse was in too tight on Greenfield to be able to convert the puck. Lindskoug produced another solid double save in the 22nd minute when he denied Mikko Juusola and Neumann. Moments later there was a let off for Flyers as the Steelers fashioned an opportunity and with Lindskoug scrambling to regain position in his net Brien Diffley hit the side net with a lot of twine gaping. Osterberg had a drive that Greenfield let rebound off him and Drake Pilon was inches away from finding the back of the net. The Steelers however were carrying most of the momentum at this stage and the Flyers survived a hectic 60 second spell where they were hemmed in their own end and Lindskoug made a terrific save with his mask as the puck bobbled and bounced around in from of the Flyers net. Midway through the Flyers showed they were still able to create chances as Pulkkinen and Osterberg combined with the later just off target. In the 32nd minute a giveaway in the Fife end was pounced on by Balmas who wired a shot for the top corner but he was absolutely robbed by the glove of Lindskoug. The Flyers went on their second powerplay but couldn’t get anything set up as the Steelers killed it fairly comfortably. Johan Eriksson forced a stick save from Greenfield with three minutes of the period left before Lindskoug again denied a great scoring chance for the Steelers when he stopped Patrick Watling. In the final few seconds Eriksson got a step in behind the Steelers defence and looked to have been hooked as he tried to get a shot away right on the period buzzer but there was no call on the play.

The third period naturally saw the Steelers keep their foot on the gas and most of the early play was in the direction of the Flyers net as the home team defended resolutely. Lindskoug kept coming up with the saves and he was helped out by his defence and forwards as the Flyers to a man put their bodies on the line. In the 46th minute though the home side created a chance and Greenfield had to make a smart post to post stop on Eriksson after he had been set up by Chiodo. The next shift saw the Flyers come close to extending their lead as Brady Pouteau, Humitz and Pulkkinen created some chaos around the Sheffield net but no one could produce a final touch. Lindskoug’s best save of the night followed soon after when Balmas could only look up at the rafters in disbelief. Within a minute of that the Flyers doubled their advantage with a nice breakout move that saw Lajeunesse carry the puck down the left and his saucer pass was right on the tape of Drake Pilon who buried it past Greenfield with a one timer. With a two goal cushion the Flyers tried to batten down the game but Sheffield naturally kept pressing and they got a lifeline with a little over four minutes to go when following a scramble around the Flyers net and with Lindskoug unhappy about his mask being loosened from an earlier save Kevin Tansey drilled the puck home from the high slot. 30 seconds later and Lindskoug made a strong save to prevent the equaliser when he stopped Juusola and as the clock ticked down below two minutes to play the Steelers pulled Greenfield for the extra attacker. With 69 seconds remaining Steelers called a timeout and face off wins were crucial with Fife getting control of the puck and managing to clear before they took their own timeout with just 20 seconds remaining. The Steelers won the face off this time but Flyers managed to get a block on the puck and iced it with just 1 second remaining. The face off was almost academic as the Flyers held out for a gutsy win.

The Flyers are next at home on Sunday 28th January when they entertain the Cardiff Devils – tickets can be bought online here:  Tickets – Fife Flyers or look out on social media channels for box office opening times.

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