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Match Report – Saturday 2nd March 2024

Following the emotions of a big Flyers comeback win just 24 hours earlier the Fife Flyers and Glasgow Clan went at it again in the final regular season meeting between the teams. The Flyers knew that a win in regulation would bring them level with points with Clan in the final playoff position with the Glasgow club just remaining ahead on win percentage. The visitors were still without Alex Roach, Ryan Harrison and Reid Petryk and also added Dyson Stevenson to the sidelines whilst the Flyers welcomed back Teemu Pulkkinen with Drake Pilon, Fynn Page, Brodie Kay and Dominik Salama scratched.

In another lively start to the game both teams looked as though they were prepared to continue in similar fashion to last night with wide open hockey. Cody Sol put the first puck on net after 2 minutes and Shane Owen padded away his effort from the blueline. Immediately the Flyers went the other way and Lucas Chiodo broke in on the Clan goal but Antii Karjalainen was able to cover the puck up. It was keenly contested without many dangerous shots on net being generated but in the 6th minute Kyle Osterberg fired high on Karjalainen who managed to get his shoulder up to deflect the puck away. The next minute and Luke Lynch weaved his way through the Flyers defence and his shot was blockered away by Owen. In the 8th minute the Clan did however break the deadlock when Darien Craighead sprung Jordan Cownie on the rush and he went in on Owen to pick the top corner over the netminders glove.  Cownie threatened again with a solo dash which Owen again had to look smart with to make the blocker save. The Flyers had the games first powerplay in the 11th minute and Kevin Wehrs quickly tested Karjalainen from range. Max Humitz on the rush then saw his effort saved by the blocker but with only one second remaining on the man advantage the Flyers levelled the game. Johan Eriksson from the circles had the shot come pass that bounced off Karjalainen’s pads and Teemu Pulkkinen was handily placed to knock the rebound into the net. In the 14th minute Sol again fired in a long range effort which Owen was able to see and smother through a ruck of players. The Flyers at the other end brought out a great kick save by Karjalainen as he denied Collin Shirley. With 90 seconds left in the period the Flyers got their noses in front when a sweeping transition involving Osterberg and Vitalijs Pavlovs ended with the puck on the stick of Troy Lajeunesse who went top corner over the blocker of Karjalainen.

The Flyers had an early chance in the second period to go further ahead with a powerplay and Lucas Chiodo was denied by the Clan goalie twice in quick succession. They did however get a third goal just as the penalty expired after keeping possession in the Clan zone when a Lajeunesse shot fell nicely for Pavlovs at the side of the net and he had a gaping six by four to hit. Karjalainen then made a save which will be contender for Save of the Week as he flat out robbed Shirley at the top of the crease with his pad. The Flyers were dominating the game at this point although they did have to survive a huge scramble in front of their net when the puck just wouldn’t bounce for the Clan. The Clan did however stun the home crowd with a couple of goals inside of three minutes. The first arrived in the 29th minute and was the result of a heavy forecheck and perseverance around the Flyers net as Michael Pelech netted at the second attempt. Shirley then streaked through and sent one over the bar before Karjalainen made another pad save to stop Pulkkinen. The Clan however were level in the 32nd minute when again the Clan pressure in the Fife end caused a turnover and Gary Haden was able to find Philippe Sanche all alone at the top of Owen’s crease and he couldn’t miss. The Flyers response was immediate as they had the lead back inside 60 seconds as Pulkkinen collected the puck breaking in over the blueline and he drove the net to go backhand forehand to sweep the puck into the net. With their tails up the Flyers added another in the 35th minute and it was another thing of beauty as Johan Eriksson went down the right boards and feathered the puck to the slot where Chiodo was driving the net and he swatted the puck in off the post. Casey Gilling missed a huge chance when he shoveled the puck over the net from close in but the Flyers were clearly in the driving seat and added another before the end of the period when Sean Giles picked out Collin Shirley coming off the bench and he skated in and deked Karjalainen before roofing the puck.

The third period was initially more evenly contested and in the 43rd minute Aleksi Mäkelä tried his luck but his effort was gloved. Moments later Reece Kelly had a blast from the circles but Owen was able to smother the shot. In the 46th minute another great transition of the puck by the Flyers gave Kevin Wehrs the chance at the back post but Karjalainen made another huge stop. The Clan went on their first powerplay of the night moments after and 40 seconds in the Flyers were called for another infraction giving the visitors a two man advantage. The Clan made this count as they pulled a goal back when Pelech with his net front presence was able to pick up a rebound from an Owen save to knock the puck home on the backhand. The Flyers were able to kill the rest of the 5 on 4 penalty but they soon found themselves once again on the penalty kill as they were called for another infraction. The Flyers managed to kill the penalty but with their player returning from the box and unable to get back into the play the Clan struck to make it a one goal game when a Sanche shot was redirected across ice which took Owen out of the play and Charlie Combs from the angle found the empty net. Glasgow had all of the momentum at this point and the Flyers were rarely seen as an attacking force but Lajeunesse did test Karjalainen in the 56th minute with a drive that was bound for the top corner being saved by the blocker. The visitors comeback was complete a minute later however when once again the aggressive Clan forecheck and puck battles allowed them to get possession and Pelech was again at the top of Owen’s crease to deflect the puck into the net. With 70 seconds of regulation remaining the Flyers went back on the powerplay and their best effort before the buzzer was a Chiodo one timer that was blockered by Karjalainen.

Into overtime and the teams played 4 on 3 with the Flyers still with 50 seconds of powerplay time. The Clan did a good job killing the penalty and the teams returned to even strength playing 4 on 4. Jonas Emmerdahl had a blueline drive blockered over the bar by the Clan goalie and from the resultant possession the Clan set up a play that allowed Sanche to cut in from the right wing and at the bottom of the circles he picked the smallest of gaps over Owen’s shoulder to find the top of the net and ice the comeback win for the visitors.

The Flyers are next at home on Saturday 9th March when they entertain the Coventry Blaze – 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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