Elite League: Belfast Giants beaten at home by Fife Flyers
Belfast Giants 2 Fife Flyers 5
Scottish netminder Jordan Marr was in inspired form, making 41 saves to help the Fife Flyers to a 5-2 win over the Belfast Giants at the SSE Arena in an Elite League clash.
The goaltender weathered a massive storm from the hosts in the third period to keep his side ahead, and two late goals from the Flyers handed them two vital road points in the battle for play-off seedings.
With regular netminder Jackson Whistle out injured, Giants head coach Adam Keefe again turned to backup Chris Truehl, while the same applied for Fife with Marr only getting the start between the pipes with everyday man Andy Iles unavailable.
Belfast started on the front foot and they had the better chances on goal in the early exchanges, Darcy Murphy centring a pass that Blair Riley nearly tipped in before Marr got a pad behind a Murphy shot from the left circle.
But the visitors showed their powerplay prowess as they finally began testing Truehl, Chase Schaber, Dan Correale and Charlie Mosey all testing the netminder in quick succession, while Dannick Gauthier saw an effort rebound off the post.
It would be the Giants who led on a powerplay of their own, however, the Flyers called for too many men on the ice and Sébastien Sylvestre’s slapshot from the top of the right circle flew through traffic and found the twine at 11:43.
Fife quickly levelled, a beautiful reverse pass from Correale finding Mosey in the left circle and his wrister at 14:52 beat Truehl on his glove side, before they then took the lead at 17:10 when Shayne Stockton played the one-two with Gauthier and finished five hole at the crease.
But for a last ditch stick check from Spiro Goulakos then Carlo Finucci would have doubled that lead moments into the second period, while Marr was again strong in denying Steve Saviano five hole at the other end of the ice.
Tensions finally spilled over as players from both sides clashed in front of the benches midway through the period, Ryan Martinelli the chief offender and on the resulting powerplay the visitors did increase their lead.
The goal came at 30:38 and it was beautifully worked by the Flyers, the dangerous Correale given plenty of time to assess his options and his pass to the right circle saw Peter LeBlanc snap home a one timer off the crossbar.
Despite Goulakos running into more penalty trouble, Belfast pulled one back at 34:06 when 4-on-4 as the puck found its way to Blair Riley in the high slot and the captain ripped a slapshot low past the unsighted Marr.
The Giants then finished the period on a high as Goulakos again got on the wrong side of the officials in taking a four-minute penalty for tripping and boarding, however the hosts killed it off to head into the intermission just one behind.
However, the drama surrounding Goulakos didn’t end during the break as Fife d-man Ricards Birzins laid a massive hit on the Belfast man at the start of the third period, no doubt influenced by earlier events.
But even with the extra man, and all their dominance for the first half of the period, the Giants couldn’t find their way past Marr who was rock solid, making an excellent kick save from Sébastien Sylvestre before covering a loose puck at the crease under pressure.
And when his forwards got the chance they made his hard work pay as they added their fourth shorthanded at 50:32, a hammer blow for the hosts as Mosey turned over the puck at the blueline and took it the rest of the way to finish past Truehl.
Even with the Giants searching for two goals to tie the game and take it to overtime, it was still the Flyers who pressed and they were unlucky not to add a fifth when Finucci diverted a Mosey pass inches wide at the crease.
But, with Truehl pulled in favour of an extra attacker towards the end, the visitors got their fifth at 59:59 as Finucci skated through into clear ice and slid the puck into the empty net to end a miserable night for Adam Keefe and his side.
Man of the Match: Jordan Marr (Fife Flyers)
Belfast Telegraph Digital