Match Report – Sunday 11th February 2024

The Flyers and Flames were meeting for the final time at the Spectrum with the Flyers looking to stop a run of recent defeats there. The Flames were playing back to back home games after picking up the two points in a shootout against the Dundee Stars whilst the Flyers were coming off the back of the 16 goal thriller against the Panthers. Shane Owen retained the starting position in nets and Casey Gilling came into the line up with Kyle Osterberg scratched along with Brodie Kay, Fynn Page and James Spence. The Flames started Eamon McAdam rather than Taz Burnam from the previous night but were otherwise unchanged as Austin Glover and Ryan Hughes were both scratches and Ben O’Connor was away on GB duties.

The Flyers had the first chance of the game when Max Humitz found wide open space down the right wing and his snap shoot after 80 seconds was gloved by McAdam. Flames responded by spending most of the next couple of minutes in the Fife zone with Shane Owen making a number of routine saves. In the 6th minute Troy Lajeunesse fired one high on McAdam who fought the puck off to keep it out. Steven McParland came within a whisker of opening the scoring in the 7th minute when he fired one just wide of the far post but moments later Alex Yuill dangled with the puck behind the net before playing the puck out front to Matt Tugnutt who went bar down on Owen with a backhand shot. A minute later and Owen had a fantastic save to deny Ryan Tait but Fife then responded with an aggressive shift in the Flames zone which McAdam was eventually thankful to halt after smothering the puck. The Flyers were getting their chances and in the 12th minute a Kevin Wehrs, Collin Shirley and Max Humitz rush ended with the latter dragging his shot just wide of the post. At this stage in the game there had been a lot of puck management and careful possession from both sides which was a far cry from the run and gun game the previous evening against the Panthers. Troy Lajeunesse snapped one on goal in the 13th minute which again gave McAdam trouble and from the following scramble the Flames goalie had to scamper from behind his net back into his crease as Wehrs teed up a shot from the slot which pinged the outside of the post. Tait was next to threaten when he was on the doorstep of Owen’s crease but the Fife goalie made a solid stop. A few seconds later however the Fife defence parted as Matt Alvaro waltzed his way in to the top of the circles and although Owen got a piece off his shot he couldn’t prevent it from finding the twine. The Flyers had a great chance to get back into the game in the 17th minute when a fabulous Wehrs pass found Johan Eriksson who broke in all alone and he tried to go five hole on McAdam but the goalie closed the wickets and blocked the shot. The first powerplay of the game went to the Flames in the closing minutes and Tait almost made it three with a shot that hit the inside of the post before bouncing clear. The Flyers took another penalty and on the 5 on 3 a huge shot from Peter Crinella hit Owen on the side of the mask but crucially stayed out. Back to 5 on 4 Crinella was again denied by Owen as the period ended with 39 seconds of powerplay time remaining.

The first task for the Flyers was to kill the remainder of the penalty which they successfully did. Back at even strength Teemu Pulkkinen tested McAdam in the 22nd minute  when he skated in from the right wing. Flames went back on the powerplay in the 23rd minute and Owen was forced to make a fantastic reflex pad save to deny Crinella. Brady Pouteau stepped out of the box and was immediately involved in a counter attack and his pass found Humitz who shot off the post and before anyone else could react Lucas Chiodo knocked the puck into the gaping net. A minute later Vitalijs Pavlovs laid a pass out front of the net to Lajeunesse and his wrister went wide of goal with McAdam unable to react. The Flyers had their first man advantage in the 29th minute and they controlled the play from the face off with the Flames penalty killers making a couple of very brave blocks before Humitz drove wide when he was set up in the bumper position. Flames were not seen as much as an attacking force in this period and it was no surprise when the Flyers leveled matters in the 35th minute when Aleksi Mäkelä helped break up an attack and Chiodo went down the left with the puck, Johan Eriksson drove the net and Chiodo put the puck on his stick and he knocked it past a helpless McAdam. Flyers almost took the lead a minute later but McAdam robbed Lajeunesse when he went post to post to get his body in front of the puck in what will be a strong contender for Save of the Week. With two minutes of the period remaining both teams took offsetting roughing minors and the last chance fell to the Flyers when Pavlovs on the stretch couldn’t find the far corner of the net.

The first save of the third period came from McAdam who blocked a shot from Humitz from the circles. The Flyers went on the powerplay in the 43rd minute and after some concentrated pressure around the Flames net Humitz came up with another bad angled goal when he put the puck on net and McAdam somehow managed to let it trickle through him and over the line. The Flames came back with a scramble around Owen’s net that was eventually cleared. Flyers hit on the break in the 47th minute with Shirley and Humitz on a 2 on 1 and Humitz elected to take the shot that McAdam did really well to get a pad on as it was labelled for the bottom corner. Flames were on the powerplay a minute later and the Flames created a host of chances with a huge Bradley Lalonde blast being blocked by Owen who then twice made saves from Tait. In the 52nd minute there was a let off for the Flames as Sean Giles floated the puck towards net and Casey Gilling got a touch on it but the puck clanked off the post. Drake Pilon then had a drive well saved by the pads of McAdam as play started to naturally become a bit more desperate as the teams traded chances. Lalonde let another howitzer go from distance that Owen dealt with and almost immediately he was again in action as he kicked away a Tait shot. There was a let off for the Flyers in the 57th minute when they turned the puck over in their own end and Lewis Hook was in one on one with Owen who made an initial poke save but also got his right pad to the follow up shot. The Flames were almost camped in the Flyers zone for the final two minutes and midway through McAdam was called to the bench for the extra skater. The Flyers couldn’t get possession to make an effort on the empty net but the Flames were held to the outside mainly by resolute defending and Owen stood tall once again when required. With 29 seconds remaining Flames called a time out but despite winning the resulting face off they couldn’t get a clean look at the Fife net and the Flyers with the two points headed into a play of position in eight spot, reward for their four point weekend.

The Flyers are next at home on Saturday 17th February 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.