Match Report – Tuesday 12th March 2024

The Flyers and Panthers were in opposition for their penultimate meeting of the season. Whilst it wasn’t win or go home for either side the result would go a long way to determining who would likely finish in the playoff position that both clubs were chasing. A win for either would likely keep that destiny within their own control. The Flyers scratches were Brodie Kay, Fynn Page, James Spence, Casey Gilling and Dominik Salama whilst the Panthers were without Michael Caruso, Carl Neill and Logan Neilson.

The first chance of the game came after 35 seconds when Kyle Osterberg just failed to hit Troy Lajeunesse with a pass with Otto Nieminen getting a great poke check on the puck. Rok Stojanovic made the first save after 90 seconds when he gloved a Collin Shirley shot. The home side shocked the visitors with the opening goal with 3 minutes on the clock when Myles McGurty floated the puck towards the Flyers net and Nieminen swatted the puck out of mid air and his downward deflection gave Shane Owen no chance. There was suspicion of a high stick and the officials went to review but then upheld the call on the ice which was goal. The Flyers were level within 37 seconds however when Shirley’s attempted pass inside was deflected into the path of Kevin Wehrs who went top corner over the glove of Stojanovic. The Panthers almost hit back immediately when Tyler Welsh got a sight of goal but the Flyers survived. In the 7th minute Hugo Roy carried the puck over the blueline and his fierce drive forced a pad save from Owen. Owen was in action again soon after when he had to be alert to stop a deflected puck off the body of Teemu Pulkkinen. In the 9th minute the Flyers broke with an odd man rush and Sean Giles up with the play just dragged his shot wide of the net. The Flyers were controlling most of the play and they almost went ahead in the 14th when Stojanovic made a great poke check on a Shirley chance and the puck fell to Max Humitz who clanked the post with a big shot. A minute later however and the Flyers pressure told when Osterberg from the half boards on the right wing fired the puck across to Lajeunesse in the slot and he was able to redirect the puck beyond Stojanovic. The Panthers keeper sticked away another cross from the right wing from Osterberg with Lajeunesse again waiting to pounce. In the final 5 seconds the Flyers coughed up the puck in front of Owen but Alexander Lunsjo couldn’t bury the gift.

Into the second period and McGurty was first to threaten the net when he forced Owen into a save with a shot from the high slot. In the 23rd minute Joe Hazeldine went short side on Owen but he sealed the post. Shirley came in from the right wing a minute later but his shot was wide. Panthers were controlling the period but without getting too many grade A chances on Owen. They did go on the games first powerplay in the 25th minute and straight away Anthony Luciani fired a shot off Owen’s mask. The Flyers comfortably killed the remainder of the penalty although the Panthers remained mostly with the momentum. In the 30th minute Lunsjo forced a kick save by Owen. The Flyers went on their first man advantage in the 33rd minute but despite some initial good possession in the Panthers zone they came up empty without getting a shot on Stojanovic. Stephen Anderson exited the penalty box to go in on Owen who made a very good glove save. With 90 seconds to go in the period and after the Flyers having had better zone time in the Panthers end Humitz saw his shot hit Stojanovic high on the shoulder as the period ended goalless.

The first five minutes of the third period saw the sides exchange rushes but neither side was able to get pucks through on either goalie. The Flyers almost increased their lead in the 45th minute but Stojanovic was alert to make a double save from Humitz. Straight down the other end the Panthers went and McGurty saw Owen get his toe to a wraparound effort and the ensuing scramble was the first time in the match that the Panthers had the Flyers on the ropes. The home side really cranked up the pressure though and they were more aggressive on the forecheck with the Flyers happy to clear their lines but the majority of the time the puck was in the Flyers end of the ice. The Flyers relieved some of the pressure in the 50th minute when Wehrs from an acute angle tested Stojanovic but he was tight to his post. A minute later and Mathieu Lemay had a great chance but Owen was aggressive on the shooter to take away net. In the 52nd minute Nieminen fired straight into the body of Owen. The Flyers keeper was becoming the star attraction at this point as he continued to defy the Panthers and he was again out at the top of his crease in the 53rd minute to stone Didrik Henbrant. Drake Pilon then drove the Panthers net with the puck but Stojanovic shut him down. Back came the Panthers and it was almost constant pressure in the Fife end where Henbrant was again denied this time when Owen flashed the leather. With just over 2 minutes remaining in the game the Flyers delivered a killer blow with a goal completely out of the blue. Shirley along the boards on the left wing put the puck on net which somehow found a way past Stojanovic to give the visitors a two goal cushion. The Panthers pushed again and with 80 seconds remaining they pulled the goalie for the extra skater. The Flyers defended doggedly and made some important blocks as the Panthers could not find a clean route to Owen. With just 20 seconds remaining the Panthers called a timeout but once again the Flyers defended well to take the two huge points and move into the final playoff position ahead of the Dundee Stars.

The Flyers are next at home on Sunday 24th March when they entertain the Belfast Giants – 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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