Elite League Play Offs – Belfast edge past gutsy Fife in semi final

NOTTINGHAM, UK – The Belfast Giants and the Fife Flyers got the 2014 Elite League play off weekend underway at around 1pm on Saturday afternoon when the first semi final faced off. Both sides came into the game in fine form as Flyers beat Dundee Stars home and away to qualify for semi finals while Belfast got the better of the Hull Stingrays over 120 minutes of play off hockey to make the final 4 weekend.

Fife’s recent impressive form led to a great number of Flyers fans descending on Nottingham for their first ever appearance at play off weekend and one corner of the National Ice Centre was predominately filled by the blue and yellow jerseys of Fife fans. A great number of supporters from other Elite League sides also sided with the Flyers in the opening game of the weekend.Belfast

Once the action got underway both sides flew put out of the blocks however it was Fife who had the first sustained spell of offensive pressure when Flyers went on the powerplay just before the 2 minute mark. Belfast were able to successfully kill off the Daryl Lloyd’s interference penalty and shortly afterwards Giants were creating their own forward openings which saw Colin Shields bring a fine save out of Kevin Regan in the Fife goal.

As the period progressed Belfast ran into some more penalty trouble when GB international blue liner David Phillips picked up 12 minutes in penalties for checking to the head of Flyers Bobby Chaumont. Fife’s powerplay was generating some chances however it was then cut short when Flyers Kyle Haines picked up an interference penalty. Fife were on the attack right at the death of the opening period and Giants goalie Stephen Murphy was called into action just as the buzzer for the end of the 1st period sounded.

The 2nd period started with Belfast on the front foot and 6 minutes into the middle session of play Giants went on the powerplay after Flyers captain Da Costa had been penalised for holding. Belfast generated a great deal of offensive play during their time with the man advantage with the best chance falling to Evan Cheverie at the back post however he was unable to get his effort on target.

Fife generated some pressure on the Belfast goal midway through the 2nd period with Derek Roehl forcing Giants goalie Stephen Murphy into a particularly smart stop. However as the middle period of play approached it conclusion Belfast’s offense truly clicked into gear and Fife’s defence had to be at his best to prevent Giants from getting on the scoresheet. On one occasion with goaltender Regan out of position a Flyers defenceman put his body on the line to deny Giants the games opening goal.

Both sides continued to generate chances during the early stages of the 3rd period of play however Giants were able to get on the scoresheet 7 minutes into the stanza when Kevin Saurette found the bottom corner of the net with a precise shot to hand Belfast a 1-0 lead.

Mid way through the session Fife got a powerplay opportunity when the hard working Belfast forward Darryl Lloyd was sent to the sin bin for 2 minutes for elbowing. Flyers were unable to create many opportunities and Jeff Szwez almost doubled Giants lead when he managed to skate away from the Flyers defence despite his side being short handed.

Flyers continued to press forward and Fife had several opportunities late on to level the game up however Stephen Murphy in the Belfast goal was equal to everything that came his way and Giants held on to win the semi final by 1 goal to nil.

Belfast Giants Coach Paul Adey shared his views on the game.

“Their netminder was very good he made some key saves and kept the score as it was. Credit to Fife they never quit on any of their plays out there.”

Fife Flyers Coach Todd Dutiaume also reflected on the match.

“We fell at the last hurdle but I’m really proud of the guys. I’m sure when I look back Ill view that game as one of our best of the season we just came up against a very good Belfast side.”

Belfast’s man of the match was goalscorer Kevin Saurette while Flyers best player on the afternoon was in form goalie Kevin Regan. Giants now go forward to tomorrow afternoon’s final were they will face either the Sheffield Steelers or Braehead Clan who play in the 2nd semi final later today.

Contact the author – Chris.mackenzie@prohockeynews.com

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