Weekend Preview – Week 30

WEEK 30 of the 2023/24 Elite Ice Hockey League season and it’s Playoff quarter final time. The Flyers and Sheffield Steelers get the weekend underway with the first of the ties being played on Friday in Sheffield with the Flyers hoisting the second leg on Sunday. The winners to advance to the Playoff Final Weekend in Nottingham will be decided on the aggregate score over the two legs.



2023/24 Elite League Regular Season Meeting Recap – FLYERS v STEELERS

22nd October 2023 – Sheffield Steelers 5  Fife Flyers 0

Matt Greenfield celebrated his second shutout in three starts as Steelers defeated Flyers 5-0 at the Utilita Arena. The game was effectively over inside the opening 11 minutes with the Steelers putting three into Shane Owen’s net. Matt Petgrave had the hosts ahead with 1:42 gone when he got onto a loose puck from the stick of Mikko Juusola and fired high past Owen. A little under seven minutes later, Juusola himself took a Niklas Nevalainen pass in the slot and pick his spot to fire into the Flyers net. The Finn struck again at 10:50 to put the Steelers in complete control. Brandon Whistle scored his first goal of the season midway through period two with Patrick Watling adding the finishing touches to a dominant Steelers performance five minutes from time.

10th December 2023 – Fife Flyers 3  Sheffield Steelers 4

Steelers stayed two points clear at the top of the standings with a road win in Fife. Scott Allen scored on a shorthanded breakaway with 16:22 played. Patrick Watling doubled the lead 5:15 into period two but the home side were level exactly six minutes later. Troy Lajeunesse at 26:17 got the final touch from an Anthon Eriksson pass while just under five minutes later Max Humitz tied things up.  Mikko Juusola put the Steelers back in front and 3:38 before the break Josh Nicholls took a Rob Dowd pass and beat Owen to put the Steelers back two ahead. Vitalijs Pavlovs made things interesting when he pulled one back with just under seven minutes to go but despite the Flyers pulling Owen with 25 seconds left they couldn’t force any good chances in front of Matt Greenfield.

16th December 2023 – Sheffield Steelers 7  Fife Flyers 4

Steelers downed the plucky Flyers as they claimed a 7-4 victory at Utilita Arena. Patrick Watling’s wrist shot beat Shane Owen after 121 seconds leading to thousands of bears being thrown onto the ice. At 3:46 a Dominic Cormier shot deflected off Collin Shirley’s face into his own net. The Steelers were pegged back to 2-1 by Anthon Eriksson coming in unchecked in the slot and converting a neat reverse pass from Max Humitz. Lucas Chiodo was then left untracked in the offensive zone and beat Matt Greenfield high off Shirley’s pass to tie the game at 16:25. Fife shocked the home crowd by taking the lead early in period two through a big slapshot from Vitalijs Pavlovs that beat Greenfield five-hole to quieten the arena. Robert Dowd levelled for the hosts just over three minutes later with a shot that deflected behind Owen off Kyle Osterberg’s stick and then Daniel Ciampini was on hand to poke home a loose puck at 28:58 to put the Steelers back into the lead. The Steelers moved 5-3 ahead with a powerplay goal when Brett Neumann tipped Patrick Watling’s shot with five seconds left of their two-man advantage. Anthon Eriksson fed Lucas Chiodo for a well-taken odd-man rush goal two minutes later to again pull the Flyers back to within one but the visitors were undone as Mark Simpson raced away to feed Brandon Whistle for the finish on a 2-on-0 shorthanded rush. Simpson added a late empty netter.

20th January 2024 – Fife Flyers 2  Sheffield Steelers 1

Flyers ended Steelers unbeaten road record with a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the league leaders in Kirkcaldy. Casey Gilling knocked in a rebound from a Lucas Chiodo shot to put the home side ahead with 8:25 played and despite facing 35 shots through two periods Kevin Lindskoug kept the visitors out. Inside the final ten minutes of the game the Flyers broke 2-on-1 and a sauce pass from Troy Lajeunesse found the on-rushing Drake Pilon to beat Matt Greenfield and double the Flyers’ lead with 9:56 remaining. Kevin Tansey hit back for the Steelers at 55:39 and despite 1:40 of 6-on-5 to finish the game the Steelers were unable to find an equaliser. It was the Flyers first league win over the Steelers since March 2022.

21st January 2024 – Sheffield Steelers 6  Fife Flyers 4

It was an all-action first period as Daniel Ciampini put the Steelers ahead after only 19 seconds but they were pegged back by Max Humitz just ten seconds later as both teams came out flying. Mark Simpson batted a loose puck behind Kevin Lindskoug at 6:13 and the Flyers lost a challenge for Goaltender Interference as they were handed a bench minor. That came back to haunt them when Mikko Juusola made it 3-1 some 83 seconds later. Josh Nicholls added another powerplay marker 1:16 into period two to give the hosts a 4-1 lead but Troy Lajeunesse converted a penalty shot at 22:53. The Flyers then pulled the game back to 4-3 through Brady Pouteau with still less than five second-period minutes played. However, the Flyers were punished by a Ciampini shorthanded goal with 3:55 left in the period. Sheffield saw their lead cut back down to a goal by Vitalijs Pavlovs 80 seconds into period three but the home side got their two-goal cushion back through Patrick Watling at 50:19. Lindskoug was pulled with 1:46 to play, but they couldn’t find another goal as the Steelers took the 6-4 win.

April 3rd 2024 – Fife Flyers 4  Sheffield Steelers 2

Anthony Morrone logged his fourteenth straight win in Steelers with a 4-2 win in Fife. A nice passing play and finish saw Robert Dowd slot past Shane Owen 9:15 into the game but the Flyers were level through Kyle Osterberg less than two minutes later. Exactly ten minutes after Dowd’s opener, Cole Shudra poked the puck home at the far post to restore Sheffield’s lead. Scott Allen doubled the Steelers’ advantage 2:49 into period two as the visitors stepped up a gear but Drake Pilon managed to pull the one back with 3:10 left in the second. Fife’s failure to take advantage of their powerplay chances kept them a goal behind and with 3:03 to play Flyers were caught pushing forward and Patrick Harper finished off the game.


Last Elite League Playoff Visit to Steelers

Last Elite League Playoff Visit from Steelers

Overall Elite League Playoff Record Against Steelers

P 2 W 0 D 1 L 1 F 5 A 6

Number Crunching

In the 12 seasons that the Flyers have been in the Elite League they have qualified for the playoff quarter finals eight times – with no playoff being played in the Covid suspended 2019/20 season.

This will be their second meeting with the Steelers with the Nottingham Panthers the only other team they have met more than once.

Of the active EIHL teams they have yet to meet Cardiff Devils, Coventry Blaze or the Guildford Flames at this stage of the competition.

The Flyers home record in play off quarter final games is P 7 W 3 D 1 L 3 F 17 A 20

The Flyers away record in play off quarter final games is P 7 W 2 D 2 L 3 F 16 A 17

This will be the Fife Flyers 9th visit to ICE Sheffield;

They first visited on 22nd September 2004 as a British National League team against the Elite League Steelers in the Crossover Cup and returned with a 2-1 win.

The next meeting at that venue was in the EIHL in the Flyers inaugural season 2011/12 with the Steelers winning 5-1.

There has been one Challenge Cup Quarter Final tie played at ICE Sheffield in 2015/16 which the Flyers won 4-3 to go out on aggregate 6-7

The last meeting with the Steelers at ICE Sheffield was 8th February 2017 with Sheffield winning 6-1.

The Flyers overall record at ICE Sheffield is P 8 W 3 L 5 F 15 A 35

The Steelers had the longest winning streak this season with 14 games, the Flyers best was 4 games in all EIHL competitions this season.

The Steelers have yet to lose back to back games this season, with the Flyers and Panthers both having the longest winless streak at 8 games.

Steelers recorded 11 shut outs whilst only being shut out once, both numbers lead all teams.

The Steelers ended with a plus 108 goals differential at even strength with the next best being the Cardiff Devils with plus 59. The Flyers minus 29 is joint 6th best of all ten teams in all EIHL competitions this season.

Some other comparison stats between the teams (with rankings in brackets);

Steelers scored 58 powerplay goals in all competitions (1st) Flyers scored 37 (5th)

Steelers conceded 23 powerplay goals in all competitions (1st) Flyers conceded 41 (7th)

Steelers goals scored by period – 1st 104 (1st)  2nd 80 (2nd)  3rd 85 (1st)

Flyers gools scored by period – 1st 59 (7th)  2nd 63 (8th)  3rd 60 (6th)

The Flyers top goal scorer against the Steelers this term in all EIHL competitions is Vitalijs Pavlovs who has three goals. Flyers have had nine different scorers of their 15 goals scored. The Steelers top marksmen each with four goals are Patrick Watling and Mikko Juusola and the Steelers have thirteen different scorers of their 27 goals.

Across all EIHL competitions this season Flyers have scored an average of 3.03 goals per game with 4.23 being the Steelers average. Sheffield have conceded an average of 2.02 goals per game with the Flyers averaging 3.63.

Ned Lukacevic celebrates the Flyers second goal in the home leg
Stephen Gunn takes the plaudits from his line mates in Sheffield