The Kitmart Dundee Stars are out to secure their place in the Challenge Cup last four for the first time in club history and do not plan to just hold onto their lead but extend it against Cardiff Devils tonight.

By Kris Smith

A major upset could be on the cards as Omar Pacha’s men head to South Wales with finishing the job they started back in December as their main goal.

The original tie was supposed to be played on December 15, but was called off just hours before face-off as the Stars were placed into the Elite League’s COVID Protocol.

The Tayside team would have gone into the original fixture in red hot form, having had won six of their last seven games, whilst scoring a total of 22 goals.

The Scots had also just beaten the Devils four days prior, as they arrived in the Welsh capital and found themselves ahead after only five minutes, through Sebastian Bengtsson.

However, once Cardiff drew level on the 15-minute mark, the game was then in a stalemate for the next 40 minutes before Bengtsson turned home the winner less than four minutes from full-time.

Those valuable two points also gave the Stars an extra edge over the Devils after they supressed the former Champions Hockey League participants in the first leg of this Quarter-Final tie.

Back on December 8 at the Dundee Ice Arena, the Stars team emerged with a 4-2 lead after goals from Philippe Sanche, Spencer Dorowicz, Timi Lahtinen and Bengtsson kept them in front all night.

The positive news for Dundee is that they will only be missing defenseman Kris Inglis from their side, as the 23-year-old recovers from his long-term leg injury.

Discussing his gameplan for the second leg, Stars Head Coach, Pacha shared what his message to his players will be.

He said: “The message is that we have shown we can do it on our last visit.

“But it is a different competition now and I said this before, we have to go in with the mindset of winning a hockey game.

“Yes, we have a two-goal lead but you cannot really think about that at the start of the game, but maybe more as the game goes on towards the latter part.

“So, for us it will be tough, Cardiff’s ambitions are always to win trophies and be in finals, so for us to go there and cause that upset, it would be massive and the first time in Dundee Stars history that we have made the Semi-Finals.

“It would be great for the club and for everything we have been through since the start of the season – with the injuries and the down moments – to have a feel good story now in the middle of January, after all our COVID troubles.

“That would be great for the club and the players, so they are going in with the right mindset and the mindset of – why not us!”

The Stars forward, Dorowicz then gave an insight to how the players feel heading into the second leg.

He said: “We were obviously very happy to get the win and two goal advantage in our first leg of the Challenge Cup series with Cardiff, and we hoped to carry that momentum into league action, which we did.

“We are pleased with our effort lately, so now it is a matter of staying consistent and sticking to the process moving forward.

“We know we have a big challenge tonight and that we face a very talented team in Cardiff, so we will have to remain disciplined and continue to build off of our recent success.

“We are excited about being in a good position starting the game and hopefully can close out the series with another solid 60 minutes.”

Face-off for tonight second leg is at 7:30pm.

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