Match Report – Saturday 6th April 2024

It was the first of two significant games between the Dundee Stars and Fife Flyers on this final weekend of the regular season. Both teams were looking for points to secure their playoff place. Stars required just two regardless of other results and the Flyers three without any of the results from the other three chasing teams going their way. The Flyers were also looking for their first league win of the season against the Stars who were without Kevin Carr in net. The Flyers scratched Casey Gilling, Brodie Kay, James Spence and Dominik Salama as the teams faced off in front of a sold out Dundee Ice Arena following almost a 25 minute delay to let the crowd into the building.

The Flyers had the first shot on net in the game after a minute when Collin Shirley tested Lucas Brine. The visitors were looking lively and soon after Teemu Pulkkinen followed up on a Max Humitz rebound but once again Brine was well positioned. In the 3rd minute Sean Giles had a shot from distance that Brine spilled and Lucas Chiodo got to the rebound but the Dundee netminder again came up big. The Stars went the other way and Shane Owen faced his first shot of the night. The game settled into a spell where neither side was able to create any clear cut chances until the 7th minute when following some sustained Fife pressure in the Stars zone Jonas Emmerdahl fired in a shot from the blueline that Brine did well to hold. Almost immediately the Stars capitalised on a Flyers give away in the neutral zone to open the scoring when Spencer Naas and Ryan Valentini raced in with just Owen to beat with the latter giving the Flyers netminder no chance. The Flyers kept pressing and Chris McKay made a huge shot block on Johan Eriksson and this was followed up by another spell of pressure around the Stars net with Troy Lajeunesse trying to go back hand on Brine who got an arm to the puck to deflect it wide. The Flyers did however get back on terms when Kevin Wehrs put the puck on net from distance and it found the top corner. The Stars were catching the Flyers with odd man rushes and Brendan Harms and Naas went in on Owen who produced a highlight reel save to stop the Stars top scorer Naas. In the 16th minute another odd man break by Stars saw Anthony Rinaldi and James Phelan breaking in on Owen but again the Flyers goalie stood tall to stop Phelan. The Flyers went on the first powerplay of the night and straight away Chiodo had a one timer saved by Brine. Max Humitz almost found the top corner as Brine got across and got a piece of the puck whilst dislodging the nets. The Flyers had good zone time but the Stars managed to kill the remainder of the penalty. Back at even strength Lajeunesse had a hot shot that bounced off Brine and was then cleared. The Stars finished the period on their first powerplay but the Flyers who had been excellent in the face off dot so far were able to win a number of draws and keep the Stars chances to the outside as the period ended.

The Flyers got their noses in front a couple of minutes into the second period after a good hustle by Kyle Osterberg behind the net saw him recover the puck and he skated out into the slot to fire past Brine. The Flyers lead however was short lived and a minute later after another loose puck was picked off by the Stars in the neutral zone it was another two man break in on Owen and he could do nothing as Carter Johnson exchanged a pass with Jake Elmer to tie the game. The Flyers went back in front in the 25th minute when Shirley carried the puck down the right wing and his centering pass was collected by Osterberg who drove the net and the puck squirmed under Brine and into the twine. The Flyers looked more threatening with a more cohesive offence and in the 31st minute a give away by the Stars in their zone created chances for Osterberg and Lajeunesse as Brine could only look around for the puck as it was deflected clear of his net on both occasions. The visitors increased their lead moments later following a nice set up by Humitz who picked out Pulkkinen all alone in front of Brine and he walked the puck around the Stars goalie to plant it into the net. The Stars retaliated with their own odd man break but a combination of Owen and a diving Brady Pouteau stopped Brent Beaudoin. Owen came up with a huge pad save in the 34th minute when he denied Rinaldi’s one time drive from the high slot. The Flyers broke the other way with Humitz and Pulkkinen just unable to convert. Rinaldi had a shot go in and out of Owen’s glove with three minutes remaining and in the closing seconds Brine made what could yet prove to be a very important block in his crease.

The Stars created the first chance of the final period when Rinaldi had a shot glance the outside of the post but the Flyers countered and Giles hammered one from the slot that had Brine beaten but clunked the post square on. The Flyers went back on the man advantage in the 45th minute and Lajeunesse saw a shot saved by Brine. The Stars did well to contain the Flyers and kill the penalty but just as they returned to even strength the Flyers struck a killer goal when a shot by Lajeunesse came off the pads of Brine and Shirley was on hand at the top of the crease to scoop the puck home. The Flyers with their lead were content to play a passive game and try and run the clock down. With 8 minutes remaining Rinaldi tried a wraparound and the puck slithered through the crease without any takers. Flyers remained in control and managed the puck well and Lajeunesse brought a shoulder save from Brine. McKay then had a shot that Owen had to make a quick kick save on and the rebound created a scramble around the Flyers net. A sweeping move by the Flyers in the 55th minute ended with an Eriksson shot that Brine kicked away and with almost four minutes to go Osterberg completed his hat trick as he went down the left wing before cutting in and stuffing the puck underneath Brine. The game was about to drift quietly to a conclusion when the Flyers were called for an infraction with 90 seconds remaining, play continued at 6 on 5 for a minute before being blown dead and from the ensuing scrum several players were sent to the room on misconducts with the remaining time being played out at even strength as the Flyers punched their ticket to the post season.

The Flyers are next at home on  Sunday 7th April when they entertain the Dundee Stars – tickets can be bought online here:  Tickets – Fife Flyers or look out on social media channels for box office opening times.