By Kris Smith
A packed out DIA witnessed a stunning third period comeback from Stars but despite taking the lead they could not postpone the Flyers conference party.
Flyers were given the best possible start to the game as they picked up a powerplay after just sixty-six seconds when Emerson Hrynyk sat on a boarding call and it did not take long for Peter LeBlanc to fire the away side into the lead. He was found alone in the slot by Liam Heelis and dragged the puck around the pads of the Stars goalie, Travis Fullerton at 1:31.
Dundee slowly turned the game around and a fight between Stars’ Adam Harding and Fife’s Tommy Muir was enough to give the home side a little boost. Muir also received a two-minute minor penalty for illegal use of his equipment and that gave Dundee their first man advantage.
A good move between Marc-Olivier Mimar and Lukas Lundvald created a good opportunity for Stars, as the Flyers defencemen were being drawn in Lundvald sent a pass across goal and found Gabriel Lévesque, he then roofed the puck into the top of the ne at 5:52.
A few moments later, Lévesque and Heelis both picked up unsportsmanlike conduct penalties after exchanging some words behind the play. There was a great chance for Jimmy Jensen during the 4-on-4 play but he was denied by Andy Iles in the Fife net before Brian Hart’s shot was also saved after a good pass by Jordan Cownie.
The physical play continued throughout the first period as there were a few more clashes. Lévesque then rattled a wrist shot off the goal post as Dundee came close to taking the lead after some good play.
A couple of minutes past before Iles got down to cover the puck before it could slide past him to the waiting Joey De Concilys at back door. Mimar to a puck to head after a hard shot from the blueline hit the Stars forward in the face and he went for some treatment on the bench.
Chase Schaber picked up a slashing penalty, but Dundee could not capitalise on their second man advantage of the night. Stars were attacking well and Chris Lawrence appeared out of nowhere in front of the Fife goal, before he fired a backhanded shot but the Fife goalie caught it with his glove. A good chance for Stars turned into a breakaway for Fife’s Carlo Finucci but Fullerton made the save with just two-minutes remaining in the opening period.
Fife got another good start in the second period, as a bad giveaway by Omar Pacha to Shayne Stockton, allowed him to fire a shot at Fullerton before poking home his own rebound on the twenty-second minute mark. Finucci hit the post as Flyers were denied of a third goal but at the other end, some brilliant work from Hart culminated with his shot being saved by Iles.
Both teams had good chances to score the next goal that could change everything and it was Todd Dutiaume’s side who scored to extend their lead to 3-1. Stockton scored his second of the evening as he picked up a rebound and skated around the net, wrapping his shot around the post and past the two scrambling Dundee defencemen at 30:38.
Less than a minute later, Heelis skated in close and slipped a pass to Danick Gauthier who was unmarked and able to shoot the puck into the wide open net at 31:22. Now 4-1 ahead Fife looked like they had done enough to secure their first Gardiner Conference title.
However, Dundee didn’t give up and continued to pound the Flyers goal with shots. Anthony Mastrodicasa and Jensen had their efforts saved before a good move was created by Stars with seconds left. They passed it around the zone before Mimar fired a shot that was stopped but the rebound came back to him and he shot the puck over Iles and into the net with half a second left in the middle period.
Omar Pacha needed a big third period from his team, if they were to get anything from this game and it started off with Flyers losing defenceman, Ian Young after he got a puck to face and headed to the locker room for treatment.
Dundee were controlling the play and a timeout by the Fife head coach allowed Stars to get their breathe back. From the face-off, Pacha fired a quick shot that bounced off the plexi-glass and back off Iles and into the net at 43:41, pulling the home side back to just a goal behind.
After the restart, Cody Carlson’s diving block prevented a dangerous pass from Finucci reaching its target. However, a quick play forward by Fife seen Gauthier hold off Hrynyk before he roofed a shot over the spread-out Fullerton to restore a two-goal lead for Flyers at 46:26.
Dundee still did not lay down and Malcolm Gould crashed the net as he followed up on a rebound but Ricards Birzins threw him into the goal frame and recieved a penalty for his actions. In the final minute of the powerplay a big shot from Carlson was saved but Jensen was in the right place to shoot home the rebound at 49:03 and pulling the score back to 5-4.
Jim Jorgensen was guilty of a hooking infraction and that put Dundee back on the powerplay but despite two good chance for Hart, Fife killed off the penalty before getting a powerplay of their own. Carlson was called for interference in the fifty-forth minute, but Stars did well to defend against a handful of attacks and even had some shorthanded opportunities.
Then Birzins returned to the penalty box for holding and it was not long into the powerplay before Dundee levelled the score at 5-5. A slapshot from Lundvald was saved but the rebound dropped in front of Lawrence and he quickly shot the puck past Iles with less than two-minutes remaining in the game.
Stars did not ease up on Fife, Cownie fired the puck around the boards in the opposition end but an odd bounce off the glass sent the puck towards goal and the Flyers netminder moved quickly to stop it. Young was very vocal from the away team bench and that earned him a two-minute penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct with less than ninety seconds to play.
Now three for six on the powerplay, Dundee were pressing in the Fife end and passing the puck around the zone well, before Lundvald was found lurking at the backdoor and smashed the puck into the net to give Dundee a 6-5 lead with just forty-six seconds left.
In a desperate attempt to redeem themselves, Andy Iles was swapped for an extra attacker as Flyers put it all on the line and it paid off for the Kirkcaldy side, as Charlie Mosey was alone in front of goal and put the puck past Fullerton with sixteen seconds left to play.
Fife held on to take the game to overtime and securing that point was enough to clinch the 2017/18 Gardiner Conference trophy for the first time.
Overtime started with neither side making an early breakthrough, although a few minutes later Carlson seen his shot saved but the rebound was quickly cleared and that led to, Young crashing the net with the puck.
Fullerton denied the defenceman but the rebound went straight to Dan Correale. Flyers’ latest signing was waiting on the post and he put it in the back of the net to secure the extra point and a 7-6 win on his debut weekend.
Andy Iles and Lukas Lundvald were chosen as the recipients of the ‘Man of the Match’ awards. Stars now turn their attention to the visit of Nottingham Panthers next Friday before making the journey through to Glasgow for their last regular season game against playoff rivals Braehead Clan on Saturday.