FOUR games in nine days took their toll on the Fylde Flyers ice hockey team as they suffered back-to-back defeats in the English National League.
Literally battered into submission at home to Solihull Barons, they then had to travel to Hull with a depleted squad and were beaten by the Stingrays.
They started well against Solihull at Cleveleys’ Sub-Zero arena, taking the lead in the 10th minute, but then the Midlands side took control to win 15-4.
Top scorer Bobby Caunce incurred a severe eye injury and Solihull had powered in another 10 goals before Fylde troubled the scorers with their second.
Solihull had a clear game plan to disrupt the free-flowing Fylde hockey, which they carried out to the letter. The big, physical visitors won possession all over the ice and expert finishing meant they were able to rattle up a big score.
Fylde started with 16 skaters and ended with 10 as two required hospital visits.
They ended the game without Hall, Veldze, Caunce, Charlton, Johnston and Grinbergs, while others were carrying injuries at the close.
Andy Clark took the MVP award for another non-stop display, while Solihull’s outstanding player was Canadian Michael Rodger, who replaced ex-NHL man Chris Allen.
Janis Grinbergs scored two late goals for Flyers but despite much encouragement from another big Cleveleys crowd, Flyers ended bruised and well beaten.
It meant Fylde were severely understrength for the next day’s visit to Hull Stingrays, who emerged 12-3 winners.
Dan Bracegirdle returned, and Charlton and Marriot agreed to play despite carrying injuries. The Stingrays were at full strength.
After a short period of desperate defending, Fylde leaked goals consistently and were 7-0 behind after 20 minutes.
Fylde gradually worked their way back into the game, matching Hull goal for goal as veteran Wayne Whitby finishing well for his two goals and the MVP.
Frustration boiled over with five minutes to go and big defenceman Tony Melbourne was sent to the dressing room after an altercation with Chris Hogarth. Hull scored two late goals, with Flyers reduced to four skaters for the last five minutes.
Netminder Greg Ruxton, after making several notable saves, incurred another knee injury but he hopes to be fit for Saturday’s home fixture with Sheffield Senators (face-off 5pm).
This was Flyers’ final ‘double header’ weekend of the season and they will not be sorry to see the back of them.