Braehead Clan and Fife Flyers seal play-off places

By Craig AndersonBBC Scotland
Edinburgh beat west coast rivals Braehead at the weekend

Braehead Clan and Fife Flyers overcame tricky quarter-final ties to become the first Scottish teams to ever reach the Elite League play-off finals weekend.

Clan surprised holders Nottingham Panthers with a thumping 9-1 aggregate victory.

And the Flyers got the better of rivals Dundee Stars, as Sunday's 4-1 away win sealed an aggregate score of 8-4.

"I can't say enough about the guys, who played and executed it brilliantly," said Clan coach Ryan Finnerty.

If Cardiff Devils missing out on the top eight was surprising, not having Panthers, who have won the play-offs three years in a row, in the finals is arguably a bigger shock.

Braehead had their job to do and the fact they returned to Glasgow with a 4-0 first leg win from Thursday in their back pocket gave great hope that it could be done.

"It had been a long day and I don't I've ever been so nervous before a game," added Finnerty after a comfortable 5-1 home win.

"We knew Panthers were capable of coming back and we were confident of our play.

"But we're not just happy to get to the finals. Now we want to compete and we're going to Nottingham next week to win it."

Two from Neil Trimm and solitary strikes from Ash Goldie and Joel Champagne had Clan in pole position from the first leg.

Matt Francis opened the scoring for Panthers in Saturday's return, giving the visitors hope but Goldie equalised shortly after.

Nottingham started to lose their discipline as the match wore on, which Clan took advantage of with Kevin Bergin, Matt Towe, Goldie and Joel Champagne all finding the net.

It triggered scenes of celebration as the club look ahead to a semi final date with either Sheffield Steelers or Coventry Blaze this Saturday in the Lace city.

Joining them will be Fife Flyers who have put together an impressive run of form in the last couple of months.

Taking a slender lead into Sunday's leg, the Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume admits he was worried, but the Canadian has his eyes on the prize.

"It was a tough rink to come into the with the lead we had and I'll admit, I was concerned, but I didn't show it," he said.

"I felt we were under a lot of pressure given it was the club's big anniversary earlier this season and we had a legends game.

"When you go into a finals weekend, anything can happen in a one-off game. We're a hot team and a confident one and looking ahead, I fancy our chances."

Fife roared into a four-goal lead in Saturday's first leg, with Bobby Chaumont, Jordan Fulton (2) and Derek Roehl scoring in the opening half of the game.

The Stars came back to life and Nikita Kashirsky's finish seconds from the end of the middle period began the momentum shift.

Rory Rawlyk added Dundee's second with Kashirsky scoring another to reduce the deficit to one as Fife took a slender advantage to Tayside.

The visitors' worries were soon alleviated when Jordan Fulton opened the scoring, with Tim Hartung scoring a second shortly after.

Dundee looked beaten already and when Jamie Wilson and Matt Reber added further strikes for Fife, the Kirkcaldy party had begun.

A late consolation from Lubomir Vaskovic didn't dampen the mood as the Flyers look ahead to a semi final with Belfast Giants in Nottingham on Saturday.

Dundee coach Jeff Hutchins was devastated afterwards as reflect on the tie overall, but remains proud of the strides his team have taken.

He said: "We didn't match the intensity for much of the game and when they got their first on the powerplay, we got deflated and it got tougher as they scored more.

"This doesn't take away from what we've accomplished all season and we achieved two out of our three goals. We should be proud of that."

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