By Kris Smith
It was a battle of the goalies as two impressive performances in the blue paint helped shape the score line of the league clash between Stars and Storm.
Dundee arrived in Manchester without a key member of their team, Travis Fullerton, he was unable to play due to illness. Dundee were even further short benched as Justin Fox, Johan Andersson and Chris Lawrence did not ice. Adam Harding also missed out as he served the first of his two-game ban.
Dundee got the first chance of the game when Gerard Hanson served a two-minute hooking penalty in the third minute. Omar Pacha’s shot went just wide of the Manchester net as his side failed to take advantage of the early powerplay, with Clemente holding a powerful slapshot from Riley Stadel as the penalty expired.
Emerson Hrynyk was sent to the box after he was charged with interference. Ryan Finnerty’s men took full advantage of their first powerplay, after just seventeen seconds, Dallas Ehrhardt quickly fired a wrist shot into the top right corner at 5:09.
Dundee’s Ben Edmonds then seen his shot tipped wide before Dundee went back on the powerplay and Malcolm Gould was then denied. Jay Rosehill put Stars back on the powerplay minutes later as he was penalised for boarding but the closest Stars got to a goal was when Gabriel Lévesque redirected the puck towards goal but Clemente covered it up on the line.
Manchester forced a number of good saves out of Holland in the first period but the Storm goalie had his fair share of saves to make too. However, he had some trouble with Gould’s shot, as he got a piece of but could not hold it and the Storm defences swept it away.
Dundee could have equalised as the puck came across goal to Brian Hart but Clemente had tracked him well and was there to make the stop. Anthony Mastrodicasa put his shot over the net after Stars had created a 3-on-1 break in the final minute of the opening twenty.
Manchester extended their lead early in the second period, Holland made a pad save on the initial shot but in swooped Matt Beca to knock in the rebound at 21:46. Riley Stadel prevented another after he cut out a Storm counter attack with his diving block before Hart was denied at the other end when he tried to tuck in a rebound.
Stars backup netminder continued to produce big saves as he made a double pad stop before blocking a shot from close range with his shoulder. Eventually a skilled Beca, wrong-footed the Scot. Beca fired home from doorstep on the 35-minute mark.
After winning possession from face-off Stadel tried to clear the puck into the Manchester end but it hit off of his teammate, Jimmy Jensen and Beca collected it before moving into the Dundee end. He shot the puck at Holland who made the first save but Beca got his hat-trick
as he followed up on his shot and tucked home the rebound at 35:50. Finnerty’s men held their four-goal lead going into the final break.
Stars were getting shots away but physical play from Manchester had kept them off the scoreboard at the start of the third period. Dundee were given a sixth powerplay when Scott Pitt was penalised for slashing but the only thing it sparked was a scrap between Stadel and Long.
Three punches by Stadel and Long hit the ice. Storm killed off the rest of the penalty before getting a man advantage of their own, as Gould also sat for slashing. The home side almost found a fifth when a quick shot rebounded off the post but Holland was there to cover it on the line and referee Mike Hicks waived it off.
Holland then robbed Mike Hammond of a goal before making another magnificent save to end an impressive performance despite the score line.
Gabriel Lévesque and Mike Clemente were chosen as the ’Man of the Match’ winners. Dundee now prepare for the Hogmanay clash in Glasgow with Braehead Clan. A win in the afternoon clash can lift Stars above Edinburgh in the conference standings.
Photo: Mark Ferriss