Braehead Clan end barren run with win against Fife Flyers
Mike Will's heroics in penalty shots gave Braehead Clan their first win in seven games, with the Glasgow side ending 2012 on a high note as they edged past Fife Flyers.
For Flyers though, it was a setback in a week where they gained four big Gardiner Conference points and more to play for in the week ahead.
Braehead though needed the win to ease the pressure after six straight losses, including a 4-3 defeat to Edinburgh Capitals at home the previous day.
The first period ended goalless after a cagey affair that saw Clan dominate in terms of scoring chances, but do nothing in the way of conversion.
But the game burst into life in the middle period as Fife put the pressure on the Purple Army and opportunities for Bobby Chaumont went abegging.
But it was the former Clan man who opened the scoring when he turned in Derek Keller's chance at the back post.
They increased the lead a minute later as Keller's well-struck shot was denied by Will, only for Kris Hogg to tuck in the rebound.
Given Braehead's recent form two goals down would have spelled the end, but their fight-back showed flashes of what's been missing from the side.
Dave Nicoletti's thunderous drive from halfway inside the Flyers' zone pulled one back to give the travelling support something to cheer about.
Then, with seven seconds of the period to go, Jordan Krestanovich's shot squeezed inside Bryan Pitton's near post to give the visitors a huge equaliser.
Keller's smashed chance in the dying embers of the third period saw Will called into action again to preserve at least a point and the match proceeded to overtime.
Ultimately, the extra five minutes could not decide the outcome, leaving penalty shots as the only option.
And Krestanovich scored the decisive chance to seal Clan's victory.
Afterwards, the player-coach was delighted to see his team finally get the elusive win and explained his decision to start with back-up Will rather than regular netminder Garrett Zemlak.
"It feels great and it's a massive win for our team. When you go 2-0 down, the lights can go out, but we battled back and everyone worked really hard," said Krestanovich.
"Will was phenomenal for us and the decision to start him over Zemlak was because I felt he had a better chance of winning us the game and that was it. Nothing else."
Fife coach Todd Dutiaume took nothing away from Braehead's win, but reckoned his side perhaps could have done more to secure the points.
He said: "They played well and had a system which they stuck to and found a way to win the hockey game. I don't think we played as we should certainly, but they did what they had to.
"In the context of the Conference, a win here would have been huge, but it will go all the way. We have to stay close if we're going to have a chance to vie for top spot."
Elite Ice Hockey League
Thursday 27 December
Belfast Giants 4-3 Braehead Clan (OT)
Fife Flyers 6-3 Dundee Stars
Hull Stingrays 1-0 Edinburgh Capitals
Saturday 29 December
Braehead Clan 3-4 Edinburgh Capitals
Nottingham Panthers 8-1 Dundee Stars
Sunday 30 December
Dundee Stars 4-2 Cardiff Devils
Fife Flyers 2-3 Braehead Clan (ASO)