By Kris Smith
Kitmart Dundee Stars won two of their three matches in England this weekend and climbed up to sixth place in the standings.
Dundee were again at full strength and the first chance of the night went their way as Coventry defenceman Justin Hache made a mistake and allowed Stars through on goal but they were unable to capitalise. Shawn Pauly was then denied going the other way inside the first minute.
The home side opened the scoring through Ross Venus, he entered the Dundee zone and used his teammate, Dillon Lawrence to block the vision of the Stars goalie. He then fired a shot that beat Pontus Sjögren high on his glove side, just after the two-minute mark. After rounding the Blaze defence, Jordan Cownie almost drew Stars level but he sent his shot across the face of goal in the fifth minute.
The first penalty of the game went against Dundee as captain Johan Andersson was called for interference in the sixth minute. The Dundee netminder made a good save from the face-off but reacted quickly to stop a chance for Ben Lake who was lurking around the Stars net.
After the penalty was killed off, Lukas Lundvald and Brian Hart created the next scoring opportunity for Stars. With a two against one advantage, Lundvald’s shot was destined for the far corner but it was turned over the goal by the top of Miroslav Kopriva’s glove.
Omar Pacha’s men caused more danger for the Blaze as they scrambled to tuck a loose rebound past the Coventry netminder but it was eventually covered up for a whistle. Venus was then robbed of a brace by the glove of Sjögren, after the British forward put a high shot on target.
Andersson got through alone for Dundee but Kopriva continued to frustrate the Stars offence with another save. Coventry got a second chance on the powerplay as Hart was penalised for tripping in the 17th minute. The home team could have doubled the lead when Luke Ferrara sent a pass to Kevin Morris but Shawn Boutin quickly intercepted and cleared away the chance.
Stars returned to full strength and the Tayside team were creating the better chances but stilled trailed 1-0 going into the first break.
Dundee were given their first chance on the powerplay after 56 seconds of the play in the second period. Morris was boxed for hooking but Stars could not take advantage with the extra man.
Minutes later, there was a crucial double save made by Sjögren as he denied Alex Nikiforuk one-on-one before Morris shot straight at the keeper who was down on the ice. At the other end there was a chance for Stars to tie the game as Marquardt hit a moving rebound first time but his shot was off target from the edge of the crease.
Nevertheless, a few moments later, Boutin converted a turnover from Coventry into a scoring chance. He slung a pass down the ice to send Lundvald in on a breakaway and he deked around Kopriva to tie the game after 27 minutes.
However, just after the halfway mark, Nikiforuk restored the home side’s lead after beating Sjögren through his legs. Dangerous chances continued to be exchanged between the two teams as Kris Inglis’ shot rebounded to François Bouchard but he could not score into the gaping goal.
Venus was again denied a second goal after he got in one-on-one but his backhanded shot struck the crossbar before landing back between the legs of Sjögren in the 32ndminute. Charles Corcoran tied the score again in the 35thminute, after Bouchard squared a pass to the American and he used Petr Chaloupka to block the goalies vision before shooting high into the Blaze net.
Pacha’s side were in penalty trouble again as Sjögren left his stick on the ice and caught the skate of a Blaze forward. His minor was served by Cownie in the 36thminute but Stars seen out the two minutes yet again. With less than two minutes to go in the middle period, Dundee took a 3-2 lead as Boutin’s shot from blue was redirected past Kopriva by Matt Bissonnette.
The third period began with Hart heading to the box for cross-checking after just 47 seconds of play but Dundee again killed off the Blaze’s powerplay opportunity. A few moments later Pauly missed a big opening at the back post as he put his shot wide before Tim Crowder had a chance in front but his effort was blocked by the leg of defenceman, Mike Sullivan.
A slashing foul by Sullivan gave Blaze a fifth chance on the man advantage in the 49thminute. There were some chances for Coventry but a slashing penalty against Nikiforuk brought 31 seconds of four-on-four hockey before Dundee would get their second powerplay.
There would be no more goals before both teams returned to full strength. Inside the final four minutes, the Blaze again missed several key chances as they just could not hit an open target but they did gain another powerplay from the mad scramble.
Chaloupka was sent to the box for elbowing in the 57thminute. Hache fired a quick and strong slapshot but a flashy glove save by Sjögren kept Dundee in front. With just under three minutes left to play, Danny Stewart pulled Kopriva in exchange for the extra skater but it did not take long before Ricci flung a shot into the empty net whilst shorthanded, in the 58thminute.
Again, Kopriva was pulled and Bouchard made it 5-2 to Dundee with 62 seconds remaining and that sealed the two points for Stars. Ross Venus and Dundee’s Pontus Sjögren were presented with the ‘Man of the Match’ awards.
Omar Pacha’s side have moved up into sixth place and will look forward to a full week of rest before their next game. With 17 points from the last 20 available, they will aim to build on their good form and continue their surge up the Elite League table.
Photo Credit: Scott Wiggins