By Kris Smith
The Kitmart Dundee Stars travel to the home of the Elite League champions on Saturday.
Third placed Cardiff slipped past Stars in a close encounter 10 days ago in Dundee. Stephen Dixon fired the Devils ahead in the seventh minute after a defensive zone error by Dundee. Charles Linglet’s powerplay goal early in the second period increased the visitor’s advantage. However, two quick goals by the hometown hero, Jordan Cownie brought Stars level before the break. A scoreless third period forced overtime and just 28 seconds into the extra period, Gleason Fournier found the winner.
Stars had a tough time in last weekend’s double header with Guildford Flames, twice they rallied a comeback and twice they were defeated.
Cardiff claimed a 4-1 victory over Manchester Storm last Saturday with Matt Pope netting a hat-trick in less than 25 minutes and Ben Blood providing the fourth goal for the Welsh club. Ben Bowns denied 28 of the 29 shots he faced at Ice Arena Wales.
Andrew Lord’s men returned to Champions League action on Tuesday and Devils are yet to win a game in this year’s competition. They lost out 3-1 to Swedish champions, Växjö Lakers with Michael Hedden scoring the opening goal in the ninth minute.
Dundee will be without Matt Bissonnette again this weekend as the winger remains on the injury list but there is a good chance that Petr Chaloupka will return to the line-up. Ex-Star Justin Faryna was missing in Cardiff’s last two games, along with Luke Piggott and spare goaltender, Jordan Lawday.
Matt Pope lead the Welsh team in points with 20 across 14 league, cup and CHL games and from his six league starts, Ben Bowns has a Goals Against Average of 2.11 and Save Percentage of .928.
François Bouchard is still the points leader for Dundee with 11 and Lukas Lundvald, Jordan Cownie and Matt Marquardt on his tail with 10. Cownie and Marquardt have scored the most goals with six each, while Bouchard and Corcoran tie the lead for assists at eight.
Pontus Sjögren has played in eight league matches and has recorded a .918 Save Percentage and a 2.83 Goals Against Average.
Stars head coach, Omar Pacha discussed his side’s chances against the reigning Elite League champions: “We will see what we have for our line-up, we are in every single game and I do not expect that to change.
“It is all about continuing the process, the guys have to play the same way and grind a bit deeper offensively.
“If we limit Cardiff’s chances then we will give ourselves a good chance to win the hockey game.
“There is no secret to winning, the league is so tough this year with every single team being competitive.
“Truth be told, we are a team that is maybe not supposed to win in Cardiff or maybe not supposed to get points against Sheffield, Belfast or Cardiff but we have in those games.
“It just shows that we have built a team that has a lot of potential and that can surprise teams but we need to be ready with our jump that we normally have.”
Face-off is at 7pm.