Written by Administrator Sunday, 06 April 2014 11:13
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The first of the two semi-finals was not the one-sided affair many thought it would be. The Flyers started very brightly – you might say they got off to a flyer – and their high energy approach was to last for the entire game.
Despite a less than full arena the atmosphere was lively amongst the fans with most supporting the underdogs against a very strong Belfast side who are widely tipped for the playoff trophy in 2014.
The Scottish fans were in good voice and it took until almost four minutes in for Belfast to create their first real chance on a shorthanded breakaway.
Seven minutes into the game saw the first of several lukewarm interchanges between the Nottingham and Sheffield fans and with some strong hitting on both sides the first period ended honours even.
By the start of the second period the bowl had begun to fill up but still some way short of a sell-out with the hope that the final sees a bigger crowd.
The last few minutes of the second period really spiced up with some more hitting and several coming togethers of opposing players with a roughing penalty late in the period sparking more chanting from the Flyers’ fans and local support.
Belfast seemed to have the better of the end of the second period and the Flyers’ defence went into panic mode blocking shots and last ditch defending to keep the scores even going into the final period.
Belfast punished the lack of Fife’s cutting edge when scoring at the beginning of the final period as the highly impressive Regan was unsighted on a slapshot that crept into the bottom corner of the net from Belfast's top scorer Kevin Saurette - who incidentally Todd Kelman says is safely signed up for next season.
It took the wind out of the sails of the Fife players who noticeably dropped their performance and with Higgins pulling out the party tricks with a sweet move in the corner to flick the puck behind his back to avoid the Fife forwards the writing looked on the wall.
Fulton’s patience finally snapped roughing up the bigger Cody Brookwell with less than a minute to go and with the Fife netminder pulled for the extra skater although Hicks called both for roughing.
It was almost the last piece of action as Fife having severely pressured the solid Murphy without finding a way through were unfortunate not to at least make it to overtime and with the final hooter sounding, they were cheered around the arena with fans from all teams recognising the incredible performance the underdogs had given.
Paul Adey doesn’t appear to be worried about the final saying his side would be ‘pretty fresh’ for the final with the older guys often being looser for the second match of a weekend. The worry is that we’ll get a very tight game with both sides cancelling each other out.
Todd Dutiaume paid tribute to netminder Kevin Regan after the game as ‘one of the best goaltenders in the league, if not *the* best’ and was one of the main reasons the side made it to the playoff weekend finals.
Regan said he didn’t have a view of the goal with so many people in front of the net he was amazed the puck managed to get through but that playing behind the team he has with people putting their bodies on the line made it easy to goaltend and this was the favourite team he’s played in.
Todd recognised the support from the arena was making a difference but had tried to keep the players isolated from the support to maintain level heads throughout the game and not to be ‘dazzled’ with a particular mention to Thomas Muir who he said had the best game of his life.
There were a number of positives that the Fife organisation can take from the second half of the season and if they continue on this trajectory, keep developing local talent, they’ll be candidates for returning to the finals weekend next season.