Over­time agony as Fly­ers down Clan to edge into play-off fi­nal

The Herald - Herald Sport - - ICE HOCKEY - SCOTT MULLEN

BRAE­HEAD CLAN’S over­time curse came back to haunt them in the cru­ellest of cir­cum­stances as Fife Fly­ers sent them spin­ning out of the play-offs.

Trail­ing 2-1 from Satur­day’s first leg in Kirk­caldy, Ryan Fin­nerty’s team were forced be­yond the reg­u­la­tion 60 by a dogged Todd Du­ti­aume team, who struck with just 23 sec­onds left on the clock to put the visi­tors into next week­end’s Elite League play-off fi­nals week­end with a 4-3 ag­gre­gate vic­tory.

It was a bru­tal blow to a Brae­head team that went into the game Gar­diner Con­fer­ence cham­pi­ons and with a sup­port yearn­ing to add to their tro­phy haul. In­stead, their eighth de­feat from 10 games af­ter nor­mal time brought a cam­paign that be­gan with Euro­pean hockey to an abrupt and painful end.

“There are a lot of tears and emo­tions in that locker room right now,” said Fin­nerty. “We haven’t won a shootout match all sea­son and that is in the back of your mind, but I thought we played well tonight.

“It’s the sec­ond time in two years we have gone out in over­time and it’s hard.”

To say the tie had a bit of an edge to it would be un­der­stat­ing the is­sue. In Kirk­caldy the pre­vi­ous night a battling Brae­head got their noses in front in the first pe­riod, only to be de­nied with two goals in the last two min­utes to give their hosts a 2-1 ad­van­tage that, on the face of it, they prob­a­bly de­served.

There­fore, Clan knew they must get at least one if they wanted to keep alive their hopes of reach­ing the play-off fi­nals for just the sec­ond time in their his­tory. While they spent the ma­jor­ity of their evening in Fife killing penal­ties and de­fend­ing with their lives, Fin­nerty’s team took the ini­tia­tive in Glas­gow to drag them­selves back into the tie.

Apart from one save from Chris Holt and a Ryan Din­gle wrist shot that came back off the post, Fly­ers spent the ma­jor­ity of their team in a packed-out Brae­head Arena do­ing ev­ery­thing they could to frus­trate and deny Clan.

Early on Tony Dahlman col­lected a great saucer pass to go through on David Brown but the Fife goalie did bril­liantly to save. Brae­head ar­guably should have taken the lead soon af­ter on a quick three-on-two break­away, only for Alex Leav­itt’s guided ef­fort to come back off the pipe.

The pres­sure con­tin­ued to in­ten­sify in the sec­ond pe­riod as Brae­head cranked up their on­slaught, with the 3,000-odd home fans be­gin­ning to fear it was go­ing to be one of those nights. That was un­til Stefan Meyer nearly blew the roof off with just three min­utes of the sec­ond pe­riod left.

A shot from Leav­itt was par­ried by Brown, but stuck in a clus­ter of play­ers the net­min­der was un­able to re­act quickly enough to Stefan Meyer at the back post and the for­mer Cal­gary Flames for­ward slot­ted the puck away from a tight an­gle to level the quar­ter-fi­nal.

How­ever, Fife would creep into the lead again with 13 min­utes left to play. TJ Craig was the man who did the dam­age as he slalomed out from be­hind the cage, spun and sent a stun­ning shot fly­ing high be­yond Holt.

It was a tem­po­rary blip though that last barely 60 sec­onds as Clan struck once more. Scott Pitt pro­vided the com­posed fin­ish re­quired, drilling a fierce shot be­yond Brown at his near post to set up a grand­stand fin­ish.

A tense four on four pe­riod seemed des­tined for a nail-bit­ing shootout, but Caig, who also net­ted the pre­vi­ous night in Fife, pounced on a loose puck at the crease to send the vis­it­ing sec­tion men­tal be­hind Holt’s goal.

Pic­ture: Al Goold (www.al­go­old­photo. com)

NOT TO BE: Brae­head Clan were stunned in over­time by Fife Fly­ers.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.