By Kris Smith
Stars face another huge weekend as the race for the final playoff spot is going down to the wire and for the first time in months they will be playing at full-strength.
Dundee will welcome the return of their only injured player, as assistant captain, Joey De Concilys is fit for action once again as Omar Pacha’s team returns to full-strength.
They start the weekend off with a trip to Coventry to face their playoff rivals as the Blaze look to extend their one-point lead over Dundee. However, Stars need to win all five of their remaining games if they are to be within a chance of making the playoffs.
Coventry won both games in Dundee, last weekend by a 4-2 score line and before that a 2-1 overtime win gave Danny Stewart’s men the extra point to take home. Although Stars won the only game in the West Midlands 3-2, also in overtime thanks to a Riley Stadel hat-trick.
Blaze have just four games left and if they beat Dundee that could knock the Taysiders out of the race for the playoffs. Ben Lake played a key role in Coventry’s win over Stars last week after he put his side back in front with less than two minutes to play before netting a second goal into an empty end. Brian Hart and Emerson Hrynyk both scored early in the third period to tie the game at 2-2 after Marc-Olivier Vallerand and Dax Lauwers put the road team ahead.
Danick Pauqette is still suspended and will miss his final opportunity play against Dundee for the first time this season.
Stars forward, Marc-Olivier Mimar is confident his side can make the playoffs and says his team are “excited” for the upcoming games. He said: “There is a great atmosphere around the room, the guys are excited for this weekend.
“Coventry are a good offensive team with great speed up front, we have to work hard in their end and put pucks deep to tire out their defencemen.
“We need to put pucks on net and get a lot of traffic in front, also limit the turnovers at the blue line and keep pressuring them constantly on the ice.
“Special teams will make a big difference in the outcome of the game.
“We have what it takes to be there, it is going to be a tight race until the end and we believe we can get that 8th spot!”
Dundee head coach, Omar Pacha was proud of his team’s efforts over the last week and has emphasised how important Saturday’s game in Coventry is. He said: “It was great to get those points, we had to play quite a few games in a row and it was a tough week, but we managed to get four wins from the five games in eight days.
“It is a good accomplishment but obviously we would have preferred to get the ten points but any time you win four out of five it is a good feeling.
“Every game started pretty close and we scored a lot of goals during the week so that was nice to see, and I liked the overall play of the team.”
“Everyone is very motivated, I think pressure is on every team that is competing for that last playoff spot, but we will see who can thrive under that pressure.
“For us we came from the back to put ourselves in a really good position to make the playoffs and whatever happens, happens but to get where we are now is a good accomplishment.
“However, it would be an even better accomplishment and to achieve our main goal which is to creep into that playoff spot, we have five games left and I expect us to play hard for those five games, starting on Saturday.
“We all know we are right with them and they are a point ahead, but we have a game in hand so it’s a four-point game, there is no secret about that.
“It is going to be massive, we have played really tight games all year against Coventry, so we expect something very similar.
“They came into our building and got the points, so we want to go into their building and steal points.”
He also said he believes his side can make it to the playoffs and that they deserve a spot in the post-season. He added: “Yes, I think we do have what it takes to make the playoffs, Saturday will most likely be our first game with fourteen imports.
“We have battled through a lot this year, we stayed composed and managed all the injuries and the guys stepped up at different times through the season.
“I do think we are worthy of that playoff spot and we will give it the best shot possible.”
The game at the Skydome Arena will face-off at 7pm.