Match Report – Saturday 16th March 2024

The Flyers travelled to Cardiff for the final meeting of the sides in the regular season… The visitors roster was unchanged from their midweek win in Nottingham with the addition of Fynn Page meaning Brodie Kay, James Spence, Dominik Salama and Casey Gilling were the scratches. For the Devils Tyler Busch and Chad Pietroniro were both missing from their line up along with Josh Waller who has a season ending injury.

The Flyers were quick to shake off any bus legs when they had the first chance after 25 seconds when Tyler Wall had to be alert to stick away a Troy Lajeunesse wrist shot. The Flyers recovered the puck however and Vitalijs Pavlovs fed the puck back into the crease from the left half boards where Lajeunesse was all on his own to beat Wall with a quick shot. The Devils first chance came in the 2nd minute when Brandon Alderson took the puck to the net but Shane Owen produced a strong pad save. Joey Martin almost stuffed the puck in after 4 minutes but once again Owen was alert to the danger. A Josh Batch floater from the blueline in the 5th minute was well tracked by the Fife netminder through a screen. The Flyers went on the games first powerplay in the 7th minute and Lajeunesse was first to test Wall with a one timer. As the penalty wound down Wall denied Lucas Chiodo with a huge blocker save as the Devils returned to full strength. The Devils levelled the game in the 10th minute after Mark Richardson had a chance and the Devils kept the puck in the Flyers zone where Justin Crandall picked a pass to Evan Mosey who beat Owen on the short side from close range. The Flyers responded well and almost immediately Sean Giles skated in through the Devils defence but the puck rolled off his stick at the last moment before Wall then made a save on Teemu Pulkkinen. Johan Eriksson was next to threaten for the Flyers but once again Wall was equal to it. In the 14th minute Cole Sanford was in tight on Owen who shut him down. The Devils best move of the opening period came in the 16th minute as they swept down the ice and a dish from Mosey found Riley Brandt but Owen was aggressively out of his crease to make a huge save. With a minute to go Drake Pilon got a touch on the puck from close in on Wall who was able to make the block.

Owen dealt comfortably with a couple of long range shots in the opening minute of the second.  In the 22nd minute the Flyers pressed and created a scramble around the Devils net but a visitors stick just couldn’t get a crucial touch. Moments later however the Flyers got their noses in front again when they caught the Devils on a line change and Collin Shirley was sent in alone and from the high slot he picked the top corner high glove over Wall. The Devils were back on the powerplay in the 24th minute and Owen stopped Cole Sanford with a shoulder save and then got down low to cover the puck up. Pulkkinen got a short handed shot on goal at the pother end but in the next Devils attack they made the man advantage pay when Marcus Crawford fired the puck high into the net on Owen’s stick side from inside the blueline. The Flyers were on the powerplay soon after and Giles had a shot that was spilled by Wall who did well to then cover up the rebound. With time running down the Flyers regained the lead for the third time when Max Humitz carried the puck down the left wing and his set up left Lucas Chiodo with a slam dunk at the back post.  Owen was in action in the 29th minute when he reacted to get something on a Jamie Arniel tip close in. The Flyers then survived a huge scramble around their goal when the Devils missed a gaping net but Brandon Alderson got a hold of the puck and used his strength to take it out front into the slot and his shot squeaked through Owen and trickled in. In the 35th minute Kyle Osterberg was all alone in front of the Devils net to get a tip on the puck but Wall was well positioned to narrow the angle. Devils were on the powerplay again in the 37th minute and the Flyers penalty kill came up big with only one shot from distance getting through to Owen. The Devils were pressing in the final 30 seconds and hit the post before Johan Eriksson made a massive shot block with Owen out of position and he then supported the rush and drew a penalty with 17 seconds left before the buzzer.

The Flyers started the third with a powerplay but it was the Devils who almost got the first chance when Sanford nearly had a breakaway but he let the puck slide off his stick. The Devils returned to full strength but in the 43rd minute they had the man advantage. The Flyers penalty kill again did a great job, allowing a couple of shots from distance, making a couple of big shot blocks but generally keeping everything to the outside. Just as the Flyers returned to full strength Alderson forced a shoulder save by Owen. In the 47th minute the Flyers sprung on a 3 on 2 break but Chiodo fired high over the crossbar with the Devils quickly countering and Brady Pouteau made a fantastic sliding block with his stick as the Devils threatened. Sanford was having most of the Devils chances and a minute later he again saw Owen come up with a solid save before then denying Martin on the follow up chance. The visitors almost had the lead for a fourth time when Chiodo stole into the Devils zone with the puck and he pinged a post with a quick shot before Martin then stripped the puck away from him as he tried the wraparound. Owen was back in action at the other end as he made a double save with a particularly strong effort to stop Brandt. The Flyers went on the powerplay with 8 minutes remaining but despite enjoying a lot of zone time and moving the puck around well they just couldn’t find an opening on Wall and with 30 seconds to go they were called for a penalty and so the teams skated 4 on 4. Osterberg and Pulkkinen combined well and Wall made a great save from the latter before the Devils returned to full strength and once again the Flyers penalty kill was solid with Cody Donaghey coming closest in the final seconds as he drove wide of the target. Trevor Cox had a tip at the post well saved by a sprawling Owen with 4 minutes to go. The Devils almost stole the points in the final minute but once again Owen stood tall as he flashed the leather to deny Justin Crandall from the slot.

Into overtime and the first shot came from Lajeunesse with Wall well positioned. The Flyers were called for a too many men penalty on a line change in the 62nd minute and what followed was a masterly penalty kill as they got sticks and bodies in lanes to keep the Devils out with Owen also making a couple of good blocks. In the final 30 seconds Wall got an arm on a shot from Lajeunesse that was destined for the top corner as we headed into a shootout.

Sanford was first up for Devils and he missed the net. Chiodo then scored for the Flyers as he deked Wall with a backhand shot. Ully then struck a post with Owen down and Osterberg saw Wall save his shot. Arniel forced a save from Owen before Eriksson missed on his attempt. Owen saved from Martin and Wall saved from Lajeunesse. Cox had to score to keep the Devils alive but his shot hit the post as the Flyers poured off the bench to celebrate another massive road win. Their first win on Devils ice since November 2018.

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.