Under-fire Edinburgh Capitals can count themselves unlucky after going down 3-2 to Fife Flyers in a Hogmanay barnstormer in front of 1500 fans at Murrayfield today.
Justin Fox scored the winner for the visitors early in the third period of an entertaining game which the home side bossed for 40 minutes.
Caps, who have now failed to win in eight games, deserved to end the year by ending that losing streak, but Flyers goalie and man of the match David Brown proved the difference in a 32-save performance.
Edinburgh player-coach Riley Emmerson said: “In this slump we’ve had, this was the most well-rounded game we’ve had. We didn’t get the result we wanted but it was a step in the right direction and a more team-committed game.
“Everyone showed up to play and showed that they cared. It was a great atmosphere and both teams fed off it. Some of my players who have not been here that long maybe didn’t appreciate how much this rivalry with Fife means to our fans. I think today helped them realise how big it is.”
Capitals hit the ice with an intensity that had been missing in recent weeks. Paul Zanette couldn’t get enough wood on a Jacob Johnston pass after the defenceman had weaved his way through the Flyers defence after three minutes and Kyle Bigos was denied from the slot by an excellent reflex save from Brown soon after.
Fife had no early chances of note but halted the home momentum killing a five-on-three penalty before scoring on the breakaway short-handed. Edinburgh were pushing forward with the man advantage and left the back door open for Ryan Dingle to break up ice and lay on a perfect pass for rushing defenceman Philippe Paquet to finish high over a sprawled Carsen Chubak in the Capitals’ goal.
Ryan Hayes almost grabbed an Edinburgh equaliser minutes later after a long pass sprung the league’s leading scorer clean through on Brown, who came up trumps sliding to his right to make the save.
Edinburgh continued to enjoy the majority of the play in the second period, out-shooting Fife 15 to six and scored a deserved equaliser with a power-play goal in the 24th minute, David Rutherford firing a one-timer past Brown off a quick feed from Brandon Coccimiglio.
Nine minutes later, Coccimiglio won the puck at centre ice and broke two-on-one with Rutherford, some slick passing between the two resulting in Coccimiglio tapping the puck into an empty net for his first goal for the club.
Edinburgh looked to be heading for a third period 2-1 lead, however, Fife battled back after an innocuous long-range shot led to a huge pile-up in front of the Edinburgh net with Chubak at the heart of it. The Caps goalie appeared to have the puck under control, however, it was knocked loose and Nicholas Rioux eventually fired a shot through a ruck of floored bodies into the net at 36 minutes, 27 seconds.
Fife, buoyed by their equaliser, came out much harder in the third period, looking physically stronger than the home side in the game’s latter stages.
Zanette, who in a strong performance did everything but score, saw an effort come back off the post. However, it was Fife who scored the crucial go-ahead-goal. Fox was the beneficiary after some nice Flyers passing around the Edinburgh net allowed him to bullet a low finish from the slot after being set up by Dingle.
Capitals worked hard for an equaliser but struggled to create chances with the same regularity they had enjoyed in the opening two periods. Zanette again came close, but could not beat Brown from close range while Rutherford cut his way through the Flyers defence like a slalom skier in the dying seconds but could not get his shot off after he was hooked by Brown. Match referee Stefan Hogarth, though, ignored Capitals’ pleas for a penalty.