Ice Hockey: Figala in imperious form

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The Independent Online
FIFE FLYERS, back in the Heineken Premier Division after a year's absence, are setting the early pace as much because of defence as attack. Whatever their imported defender Milan Figala does not sweep up, goalminder Moray Hanson smothers, and both showed their worth against Cardiff Devils and Humberside Seahawks.

The 5-1 win over Cardiff was Fife's first in nine meetings with the Welsh side. The superiority of Figala and Hanson was such that, even with four Flyers in the penalty box late in the game, they imperiously denied their opponents.

The following day at Humberside, Seahawks ran into penalty trouble as well and, with the score tied at 4-4, were unable to stop Frank Morris scoring. Nor, in the remaining 17 minutes, could they find a way of outwitting Hanson.

Humberside's defeat was their first in four games, keeping them at the right end of the table. They had to come back for the third win, though. Trailing 5-1 at Billingham Bombers, they scored four in four minutes to tie the game late in the second period. The Bomber's Bobby Brown and Anthony Payne, of Seahawks, took it to 6-6 but, with 15 seconds left, Todd Bidner made it 7-6 to Humberside.

Durham Wasps are the only unbeaten Premier side, though they have only played one game. Billingham must have thought that, for the first time in 25 games, they would beat Durham Wasps. Leading 4-2 at the half-way stage, they succumbed 5-1 in the final period for a 7-5 Wasps win.

In the First Division, Basingstoke Beavers brushed Slough Jets aside 13-4, and then faced a Romford Raiders side who had travelled home overnight from a 5-4 defeat at Ayr Bruins. The more rested Beavers saw Kevin Conway's hat- trick give them a 3-0 first-period lead, and their eventual 11-3 win was almost a formality.

HEINEKEN LEAGUE PREMIER DIVISION: Saturday: Billingham 6 Humberside 7, Fife 5 Cardiff 1, Nottingham 12 Whitley 6. Sunday: Bracknell 6 Nottingham 4, Durham 7 Billingham 5, Humberside 4 Fife 5, Murrayfield 6 Cardiff 10, Whitley 8 Peterborough 7.

HEINEKEN LEAGUE FIRST DIVISION: Saturday: Ayr 5 Romford 4, Basingstoke 13 Slough 4, Medway 4 Sheffield 10, Milton Keynes 23 Lee Valley 3, Swindon 8 Telford 7. Sunday: Lee Valley 5 Medway 13, Romford 3 Basingstoke 11, Slough 6 Milton Keynes 6.