By Kris Smith
Stars are hoping to continue their winning ways as their play-off push reaches a critical time, as they sit just a single point out of a play-off spot.
Dundee have won all three games against the Caps this year and have collected their first and second wins in Edinburgh this season. A 7-4 victory at home gave Stars the mental advantage the next evening but a tightly contested match ended with Marc-Olivier Mimar burying a shot past Tyler Beskorowany to seal a 2-1 victory for Stars, after a shootout.
Ben Edmonds collected his first point of the season last Sunday in Dundee’s 6-3 win at Murrayfield. The 19-year old assisted on Chris Lawrence’s goal that put Stars up 2-0 in the first period.
Omar Pacha has his team running at full pace as they have won eight of their last nine games in 2018. They started the year off stuck in eleventh place but quickly closed the gap on Milton Keynes Lightning and Coventry Blaze and now find themselves just a point behind Braehead Clan.
The Glasgow team host Fife Flyers on Saturday and if both Dundee and Fife win, Stars will climb into the eighth and final play-off spot. The team from Tayside can go three points clear if they gain two points from a trip down to Nottingham on Sunday and also if Fife win again when they host Clan in Kirkcaldy.
Adam Harding could possibly return to the line-up after missing the last three weeks through a lower-body injury but Emerson Hrynyk will not ice due to an injury sustained last weekend.
Lukas Lundvald has settled in quickly at Dundee and has scored 6 goals and assisted 4 times in just 8 games. Gabriel Lévesque requires only one point for 40 points in all Elite League games this season. Since his return from injury, Chris Lawrence picked up his first league points last weakened with an assist against Fife and a goal and two assists in Edinburgh.
Mike Cazzola leads Edinburgh in points with 12 goals and 23 assists and Dundee will have to be wary of the centre. Dylan Anderson is another dangerman the Caps possess, the Canadian has 10 goals plus 16 assists in the League this season.
Konstantin Teslyukevich and Callum Boyd are out with injuries as the Caps short benched problems grow and it got worse when Edinburgh confirmed the departure of defenceman Nikita Kolesnikovs and forward Pavel Vorobyev as the pair have agreed to join Polish side Cracovia Krakow.
Vorobyev joined the Caps back in 2016 and was the club’s top scorer last season with 51 points from 50 games.
The former NHL forward led his side in goals with 13 on the season and ranked second in team scoring, behind line mate Mike Cazzola. Vorobyev put up 32 points in 36 games.
Kolesnikovs joined Edinburgh from Saint-Georges-de-Beauce of the LNAH. The 25-year-old defenceman featured in 22 League games for the Capitals.
A club statement confirmed that they are seeking a replacement for both players.
Talking to Stars TV during the week, Stars head coach, Omar Pacha said: “We are playing some really nice hockey, 2018 seems to be the year we turn things around, having a lot of heathy guys helps, key guys coming back to the line-up.
“We are finding our stride, I think it took a while for some guys to get used to the league and it’s nice to get big wins and we are scoring a lot of goals.”
Stars netminder, Travis Fullerton, is enjoying his sides recent run of success, he said: “It’s been a good run that we’ve put together over the last month, losing can be contagious but also so can winning. It’s been fun to come to the rink every day.
“I think we’re getting better and more confident every time we play, you never want to set a ceiling on team performance and we’re still not quite where we want to be in the standings. Every weekend is huge the rest of the way now, we need to focus first on Saturday night against Edinburgh”.
“Our last home game was the best atmosphere we’ve had this year and we really appreciate the support, hopefully that can continue”.
As Dundee are so close to achieving the goal they set at the start of 2018, to get into the top eight and secure a play-off place, Travis added: “It’s a huge goal for us, after all the adversity we’ve had this year, to put ourselves in this position is very rewarding.
“We just need to focus on our game and continue to play the way we’ve been playing.
“We can’t look past Edinburgh, they’re playing with nothing to lose and that makes any team dangerous”.
Face-off is at 7pm on Saturday night with under 18’s tickets costing just £1 as the ‘Kids For A Quid’ initiative returns. Tickets are still available from the DIA box office and online. Also, the ice arena has issued a statement notifying fans that due to IT maintenance by Dundee City Council they will be unable to take any credit/debit card payments.