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Match Report – Sunday 21st January 2024

Less than 24 hours after the Flyers stunning win against the league leading Sheffield Steelers, which ended the Yorkshire sides 100% road record this season, the two matched up again this time at the Utilita Arena, Sheffield. The Flyers were able to welcome back Aleksi Mäkelä into the line up with the recent trio of injured players, Owen, Desrocher and Emmerdahl still on the sidelines. Fynn Page and Brodie Kay were also absent from the bench. The Steelers swapped goalies and scratched Matt Greenfield to start Anthony Morrone in nets whilst Zach Vinnell also came back into line up and Marc-Olivier Vallerand was also scratched.

It was an all action start to this one with the first chance coming after just 11 seconds when Brien Diffley walked in from the bluelines and Kevin Lindskoug had to be alert to hold the puck. From the restart the Steelers got puck possession and Diffley went round the back of the net and his centering pass was poked home through the legs of Lindskoug by Daniel Ciampini after just 19 seconds. The Flyers responded immediately and 10 seconds later they were level as Teemu Pulkkinen stripped the puck from Dominic Cormier behind the net and the puck squirted out to Max Humitz who one timed it past Anthony Morrone. Mark Simpson shot across the face of an open goal in the 4th minute and a minute later Colton Saucerman walked in from the high slot but drove his effort wide of net. The Flyers went close in the 6th minute as Drake Pilon picked up a deflected puck at the side of the net but Morrone tracked it well and got across his goal to make the save. Flyers were doing well at the face off dots and a couple of wins in succession saw them put long range efforts on Morrone who handled them well. The Steelers however went back in front in the 7th minute when Lindskoug was unable to freeze the puck and as it lay around his crease Simpson collected it and stuffed it home with claims of contact on the Fife netminder from Ciampini. The call on the ice was goal and after a coaches challenge the decision was upheld resulting in the Steelers going on a powerplay. Sheffield made the advantage count as they opened up a two goal gap when Mikko Juusola had lots of time and space at the top of the circles and his drive found the net despite Lindskoug getting a piece of it. Moments later and the Flyers were nearly within a goal as Casey Gilling set up Lucas Chiodo and Morrone got just enough on his hard shot to send the puck dribbling past the post. In the 11th minute the Steelers were back on the powerplay and they generated a couple of very good opportunities but Lindskoug was equal to them to keep the Flyers in the game. In the 15th minute Mitchell Balmer dipsey doodled in the high slot and rifled in a shot that just grazed the crossbar with Lindskoug looking like he got the top of his glove to it. Juusola wired a shot wide on a 2 on 1 and the Steelers ended the period with a powerplay, half of which would carry forward to the second period as Osterberg picked up an extra two minutes in a roughing altercation with Brett Neumann who left the ice and did not return.

The Flyers killed the remainder of the Steelers powerplay off but almost immediately they were called for an infraction and this time the Steelers made them pay. It was a nice passing move around the Flyers zone and Josh Nicholls provided a fine finish that Lindskoug had no chance with. There was a quick fire response from the Flyers who were back within two goals when Troy Lajeunesse was hooked by Colton Saucerman as he was clean through on Morrone and a penalty shot was awarded. Lajeunesse continued his hot hand as he slid the puck five hole on the Steelers goalie. Less than two minutes later and the Sheffield Arena was silenced when Chiodo picked the puck up and fed a pass across to the right wing where Brady Pouteau was surging to the net and he finished top shelf on Morrone. Steelers hit back and on an odd man rush Lindskoug flashed the leather top deny Balmas. From the resultant face off the same player went close again but he rang the puck off the crossbar and it bounced clear. The play was reviewed by the referees but the on ice call of no goal stood. In the 27th minute the Flyers went on their first powerplay. Their best chance was a shot from Kevin Wehrs from the high slot but the Steelers looked dangerous as they created a couple of shorthanded chances. With the teams back at even strength Kevin Tansey tried his luck from distance in the 30th minute but Lindskoug blockered it away. Jones was next to be stymied by the Fife goalie in the 32nd minute when he again flashed the glove on an odd man breakout. The Flyers were back on the powerplay in the 36th minute but directly from their offensive zone face off they lost the puck battle and the Steelers were away in transition with Simpson delivering to the streaking Ciampini who buried it past the despairing Lindskoug.

The wide open nature of the game continued as we started the third period and 10 seconds in Diffley had a drive on net saved by Lindskoug then seconds later the Fife keeper was again called into action. The Flyers reduced arrears less than two minutes in when they made a nice zone entry and cycled the puck and when it was fed to Vitalijs Pavlovs he spun and found the corner of the net. In the 44th minute following a long spell of Steelers pressure, Diffley from the hash marks clanged the post. The Flyers went on the powerplay in the 47th minute and despite lots of good puck control and possession in the Steelers zone they were unable to fashion a grade A chance and the Steelers escaped unscathed. It was then the Flyers turn to hit iron with Chiodo in the 50th minute seeing his shot ping off the far post as he cut in from the right wing boards. The next goal would be vital and it went the way of the home side midway through the period when the Flyers lost a board battle in the neutral zone and Patrick Watling was away. As he bore down on Lindskoug he released a fine shot that went in off the post. In the 53rd minute a 2 on 1 break by Fife resulted in Chiodo supplying the pass to Johan Eriksson for a one timer but Morrone tracked the puck superbly and got across his goal to make the save. Casey Gilling had a shot straight into the Steelers logo on Morrone with 5 minutes remaining. A minute later and Lindskoug made another fine pad save as he went post to post to stop Balmas. The Flyers called a timeout with just under three minutes remaining and Lindskoug went to the bench for the extra skater with 100 seconds remaining. Balmas missed the empty net for an icing and then Sean Giles played goal to block an effort but the Flyers just couldn’t get a clear sight of goal and the game ended with Sheffield missing another couple of tries on the empty cage.

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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