By Kris Smith
Stars travel to Yorkshire this Tuesday with the aim of pulling off a massive upset to overturn a 7-2 defeat in the first leg of the Challenge Cup Quarter-Finals.
Dundee were hit hard by Steelers in the third period last Wednesday as they put four past Stars to increase their lead to 7-2 after a tightly contested first forty minutes.
Dundee opened the scoring through Jordan Cownie on the powerplay but a 5-on-3 man advantage gave the visitors the opportunity to level the score and then take the lead. Colton Fretter’s and Andreas Valdix’s powerplay goals put the Steelers in front with just thirty-nine seconds between the goals.
Ben O’Connor extended the lead to 3-1 before the halfway mark, however Dundee had built some momentum and a display of skill by Taylor Dickin led to his goal that pulled Sheffield back to just a one-goal lead.
Although a disappointing display from Dundee in the third period had undone all their hard work. A double from David Phillips plus a goal each from Levi Nelson and Matt Marquardt gave last year’s finalists a five-goal cushion to take back to Sheffield.
Sheffield have been boosted by the return of their enforcer, Zack Fitzgerald and he will be keen to make an impact on Tuesday as his side look to continue their dominance over Dundee.
The Tayside team have yet to win a game in Yorkshire, the closest they came was an overtime loss back in the November of the 2012/13 season. Stars have won just a single point from the forty-four available in the twenty-two meetings at Ice Sheffield. Two 8-2 defeats in Sheffield this season have put the odds heavily in the favour of Paul Thompson’s Steelers.
Dundee got their own boost after the return of Anthony Mastrodicasa to their lien-up and he played a crucial part in their 4-2 win over Edinburgh Capitals on Friday evening. Stars will be hoping that Chris Lawrence isn’t out of the line-up much longer, he is expected to make his return before Christmas Day.
Nelson and Fretter have bagged four goals against Dundee and Robert Dowd, Valdix and Phillips have all netted three times each in the five straight victories this season. Sheffield have outscored Stars 35-10 with Dundee scoring two in each game.
Brian Hart, Jimmy Jensen and Jordan Cownie have each scored once against Steelers this year, Taylor Dickin and Joey De Concilys both netted a pair but Malcolm Gould’s three goals leads Dundee in goals against Sheffield.
Talking to Stars TV about the first leg against Sheffield, Stars head coach, Omar Pacha, said “I think there is fifteen minutes of bad hockey and the thing is with a team like Sheffield you play bad for fifteen minutes and you get out of your system then they hurt you and they make you pay.”
Looking ahead to the second game, he added: “Like any game we are going to try and win but it’s hockey, you never know maybe we get a few bounces to make it a tight game or we have a really good start.
“We have to play the right way and keep stringing that momentum, we need to get back to Stars hockey.”