A performance that firmly cements the Lynx’s goaltender among the best in the league ensured his side came out on top against the Kirkcaldy Kestrels 8-5.
Craig Chalmers was on hand to make a dozen or so vital saves in the final period and earn his side two points to keep up the chase on league leaders Paisley.
Despite a second period marred by poor decisions by the men in charge – including at one point having four Lynx players in the penalty box, more than on the ice – a sell-out Links Ice Arena witnessed some fantastic hockey.
The young Kestrels had, at times, the speed and skill to run rings around the Lynx defence but couldn’t match the Granite City outfit in terms of strength or solidarity.
Calum MacEACHRAN opened the scoring for the Lynx, picking up a pass from Sean Dyer and hammering the puck home.
But the Kestrels fought back level minutes later on the break, Sean Cochrane’s shot rebounding off Chalmers and into the path of Chad SMITH.
With five minutes of the first period the Lynx again pulled in front thanks to Lewis McINTOSH guiding the loose puck past Kestrel keeper Andrew Little.
The lead was short-lived however, a powerful slapshot from the home side’s blue line by Kestrels’ captain Allan ANDERSON ricocheted off the post and into the net tying the score 2-2 at the end of the first period.
It took just 24 seconds for Lynx captain – and leading goalscorer – Jordan LEYDEN to put his side back ahead, taking the puck from his own half in a stunning solo effort, easily beating Little.
And LEYDEN was on hand to grab his second of the night and extend the Lynx’s lead 6 minutes later, knocking home a rebound from Jonathan Hogan’s shot.
The Kestrels made the most of the powerplay and two man advantage after three Aberdeen players were sent from the ice in just 30 seconds, Conor DUNCAN halving his side’s deficit.
But the questionable decisions from the referees as well as a period of physical play had fired the Lynx up.
A powerful shot by Jonathan HOGAN found it’s way through the legs of Little to make it 5-3 with just over two minutes left of the second.
— Ross Davidson (@RossDavidson16) February 4, 2017
To say the Lynx’s sixth goal of the night was dubious would be an understatement – the net was almost certainly off its pegs before HOGAN’s shot crossed the line, however, the goal was allowed to stand.
The Kestrels started the third period strongly, throwing everything they had at Lynx goaltender Craig Chalmers, determined to find a chink in his armour.
It took nearly eight minutes for the visitors to find a way to beat the inform keeper, Robbie HILL, firing the puck glove side and into the net.
Kestrel’s forward Aaron ROBERTSON pulled his side right back into the game making it 6-5 on the powerplay just after the 10 minute mark.
But any hopes of a Kirkcaldy resurgence were dashed by Jordan LEYDEN completing his hat-trick a minute later.
And, with just two minutes left, Aaron THOMSON extended the Lynx’s lead, securing them the two points.
A strong result against a highly skilled Kestrels side should stand the Lynx in good stead for tonight’s Scottish Cup second leg against Paisley Pirates.
The loud travelling support making the trip from Aberdeen to Braehead today will be hoping their side still have plenty left in the tank to overcome last weekend’s 3-2 defeat.
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