By Kris Smith
Stars are aiming to continue their good league form with a third successive win against the Blaze before heading south to Wales on Sunday.
This Saturday, the Kitmart Dundee Stars are out for revenge as they look to reverse the outcome of their previous match against Coventry Blaze. In their last match two weeks ago, François Bouchard and Matt Marquardt both netted for Stars but Omar Pacha’s side were beaten 5-2 after a lucky bounce allowed Kevin Morris to score the decisive goal.
Tim Crowder (2), Justin Hache and Ben Lake were also on the scoresheet for Danny Stewart’s men. There was some tension between the two teams last time out as some heavy checks lead to Chris Joyaux and Dundee’s Fabrizio Ricci dropping the gloves and their bout raised the atmosphere in the Skydome Arena.
Following back-to-back wins against Fife Flyers last weekend, Stars were crushed 8-0 by Belfast Giants in the first leg of the Challenge Cup quarter-finals. The current titleholders have taken a massive lead back to Northern Ireland for the second leg in a fortnight.
Coventry were also defeated by Belfast in their last match, Blaze were on the wrong side of a 2-1 score line as Alex Nikiforuk’s lone goal was not enough to earn any points from the league leaders. The West Midlands club started their Scottish double header last night, going down 4-2 at Glasgow Clan.
Nikiforuk and Crowder still lead the Blaze in points with 24 and 23 from 19 league games, while Lukas Lundvald tops the Stars point scoring table with 17 points from 18 games.
Stars have been boosted by the news that their starting netminder Pontus Sjögren will return to action this weekend after missing Wednesday’s cup clash. Joyaux along with four youth prospects were the only players to not feature in the Blaze’s last game.
Outlining his expectations for the weekend ahead, Stars head coach, Omar Pacha said: “I expect the same performance we had last week against Fife.
“Having Pontus back too just gives us confidence and he has that leadership role in our team as well and I hope the guys will know the importance of the game against Coventry.
“Last time, we kind of let it slip away, not because of our bad play just because lucky bounces went their way.
“So, I think it is two even teams and we need to catch them in the standings, so we really need to get the two points and bring them closer to us.
“As I said, it is just about getting back to our performance that we had against Fife and I think when you play the same way that we played against Fife, we can give ourselves a really good chance to win against anybody.”
The two big wins over their local rivals ended Stars five game losing run and has boosted the morale in the Stars camp. Talking about what the victories against Fife have done for his side, Pacha added: “Its huge, now we have won two games in a row in the league campaign, we are looking for three.”
Looking further ahead to Sunday’s tie with Cardiff, the Canadian added: “Cardiff on the road is always a big challenge because their so good at home but they lost their last home game against Milton Keynes.
“So they kind of owe one to the fans but you can see that on any night anyone can beat anyone, so there is no reason why we cannot go to Cardiff and have a strong performance.”
Saturday’s game at the DIA faces-off at 7pm and Sunday’s match against Cardiff Devils starts at 6pm.