Fife Flyers face familiar foe Ryan Finnerty in quarter-finals

By Craig AndersonFor BBC Sport Scotland
Fife Flyers' defenceman Jim Jorgensen
Fife Flyers' defenceman Jim Jorgensen was a play-off winner with Coventry Blaze in 2015

As the ice hockey season builds to its crescendo, Fife Flyers alone carry the hopes of Scotland into the last eight.

The Elite League quarter-finals get under way on Saturday with Todd Dutiaume's side looking to reach the final in Nottingham for the third time in five years.

Standing in their way is Manchester Storm, the league's second-placed team

And the Flyers will face a familiar old foe - former Braehead Clan head coach Ryan Finnerty.

One man in the Flyers line-up knows what it takes to succeed in this competition, though, and can pass that experience on to his team-mates.

Defenceman Jim Jorgensen lifted the trophy with Coventry Blaze in 2015, when they defeated Sheffield Steelers in the final.

As well as revealing what's needed to be successful in this competition, he insists that despite injuries that have ravaged the team recently, Flyers are in a good place.

Fife Flyers against Manchester Storm
Fife Flyers have lost three or their four meetings with Manchester Storm this season

"It's two huge games for us to look forward to," Jorgensen said.

"It was a tight race this year and although the table shows we were seventh, we were only three points off third.

"Winning the play-offs comes down to taking care of the puck, making the least amount of mistakes, playing a simple game and taking advantage of the other team's errors.

"You can never win a game in the first period, but you can certainly lose it. Especially in the first leg, where you have to play the full 60.

"You can't let up if you have the lead, because you don't know what's in store when the tie goes to the other team's rink.

"In four of our last five games, we've put in the effort and done a lot of good things and only two games went our way. We're feeling good about the way we're playing."

Since winning the Gardiner Conference in February, the Kirkcaldy side have had to contend with injuries to half-a-dozen players.

In the 14 games since, they've won only five times, which has seen them drop down the league.

They play a Manchester team who finished second in the league and won the Patton Conference to set up this two-legged affair, starting in Fife on Saturday.

Against the Storm this season, Fife have lost three of their four meetings, winning one of two on home ice in a 6-2 success at the turn of the year.

Manchester Storm head coach Ryan Finnerty
Storm head coach Ryan Finnerty has only reached the finals weekend once in six attempts

Storm's coach, Finnerty, is a man well known to the Fife faithful from his four years at rivals Braehead Clan from 2013 to 2017.

The Canadian was the beaten man in the quarter-finals two years ago, when Flyers took the tie in overtime against the Glasgow side in what turned out to be a classic encounter.

But with one appearance in the finals weekend to his name as a coach in six attempts, Finnerty is keen to change that.

"It would be nice to break my own curse in getting to the finals as a coach," he said.

"It's unbelievable considering how well you do over 56 games then the last two can undo you.

"In my mind, Fife are not a seventh-place team. I feel we're playing a second, third or fourth-place team. Unfortunately for them, injuries hit hard and they fell down the ladder.

"For our club, we deserve to be in the final four after the season we've had. We've come a long way from August and kept three players from last year's team."

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