By Kris Smith
Stars loss in Coventry last night means they will be hungry for a home win, as they look to defeat the league champions for the first time this season.
The Kitmart Dundee Stars were in the West Midlands last night and took a 1-0 lead in the first period through François Bouchard. Two quick strikes from the Blaze left them 2-1 down after 40 minutes but Matt Marquardt tied it up in third. Once again it was a quick response from the hosts as they regained the lead before adding two empty net goals for a 5-2 win.
Cardiff sit in fourth place and are seven points behind leaders Belfast Giants but have played three games less. The reigning Elite League champions are 12 points ahead of Dundee but they have a game in hand.
Last weekend started well for the Welsh club, a 4-2 win on the road in Milton Keynes came thanks to goals from Charles Linglet, Sean Bentivoglio and a Layne Ulmer brace. However, it was not a good night at Ice Arena Wales after the league leaders Belfast thrashed the Devils 8-1. The only Cardiff goal came from Bentivoglio in the middle period.
Last night they hosted Nottingham Panthers and earned the extra point in overtime. The Devils fell behind 1-0 before Sam Duggan levelled 46 seconds later with his first goal in a Devils jersey. Joey Haddad made it 2-1, only for the Panthers to peg them back in the second period. The decisive goal came when Joey Martin netted the winner halfway through the extra period.
In the two previous ties between Cardiff and Dundee, Stars lost out on both occasions. A 3-2 overtime loss was tough to take after a pair of goals from Jordan Cownie brought Stars level. Stephen Dixon and Charles Linglet had fired the visitors ahead before an overtime, powerplay and game-winning-goal from Gleason Fournier won Andrew Lord’s side the extra point.
It was not as close when the Tayside team visited the Welsh capital, Connor Cox and Lukas Lundvald gave Stars a 2-1 lead after the end of the first but the home side responded well to comeback and win 5-2. Martin, Ben Blood, Mike Hedden, Mark Louis and Haddad each scored a single goal for Devils on the night.
Coming into the weekend, Linglet is the highest scoring Devil with five goals and 14 assists from 15 League matches, while Dixon leads the team in goals with seven. Ben Bowns has made 15 starts in the league and has posted a goals against average of 2.68, plus a .905 save percentage.
Earlier in November, Ben Blood left the Welsh club to join Finnish side, Tappara but head coach Lord acted quickly to bring in former Nottingham Panther and Rockford IceHog, Evan Mosey.
Two Devils did not ice against Nottingham last night, Luke Piggott and Jordan Lawday. Meanwhile Justin Faryna made his return after a lengthy spell out with an injury and dropped the gloves with Guillaume Lepine after 10 minutes. Petr Chaloupka is the only expected scratch for Omar Pacha’s side as his upper body injury ruled him out for this weekend.
With another tough game in store for Stars, defenceman Kris Inglis says it is just a case of “bearing down” and that not much needs to change.
He said: “I feel like as a team we had a very good start to the season, in the first 12 games the bounces were not going our way.
“I do not feel like a lot needs to change, right now we are probably a little low on confidence but we all reset this week.
“We had a good talk at the start of the week just to address some of the issues we have had as a team in the last couple of games but we are ready to get back on track again.
“I feel like in our game, defensively we are playing well, our forwards are creating chances, it is just a chance of bearing down and making those chances count so we can capitalise on teams’ mistakes.”
It is no secret that Cardiff have top quality players and are dangerous all over the ice but Inglis is certain that keeping it “simple” will be key. Kris said: “Our defensive-core this season has played really well, I think we have been pretty solid but in the last couple of games there have been a few cracks that have creeped into our game.
“That is just down to mental errors through lack of confidence just now, I feel like our defensive core is pretty strong and we are moving the puck.
“Obviously they have a lot of good players, to be able to handle them, I think we just have to keep our style of play simple and out work them down low in our defensive zone.
“Cardiff are a big team coming off the back of a great season last year, so we know playing against them is always going to be a tough game.
“They are high-end team with a lot of skill, the key to having a good performance against guys like that is to keep it simple and try and dictate the game with our style of play, especially at home.
“We need to be the hardest working team in any game we play, just to give ourselves the best chance of getting a win.”
Stars head coach, Omar Pacha added: “Every game is going to be hard when you are playing the defending champions, all I want to see from my group this weekend is a response.
“I think playing a team like Cardiff is a great opportunity to get right back to it at home.”
Face-off is at 5pm tonight and tickets are still available from the DIA box office and online.