By Kris Smith
The Kitmart Dundee Stars were beaten 4-2 at home by Coventry Blaze as they failed to secure two important points in the game which could define their season.
Dundee had no new injury troubles but the Blaze did not ice six of their players.
The first scoring opportunity came to Dundee after four minutes as they broke three-on-one into the Coventry end but the Blaze players quickly recovered. Although Stars still got a shot on target and they would have taken the lead if not for Nicolai Bryhnisveen tying up Matt Bissonnette on the doorstep to prevent him from tapping in the loose rebound.
Kevin Morris was given the away side’s first chance as he intercepted a poor pass but Pontus Sjögren was not troubled and made a comfortable pad save. The first penalty of the night came against Stars captain, Johan Andersson for hooking in the 12th minute. Just as the penalty expired, the Blaze continued to attack and despite one shot going straight across the Dundee goal they could not open the scoring.
The Tayside team then got their opening opportunity on the man advantage as Ross Venus was penalised for interfering with Matt Marquardt’s skating path after 14 minutes. The game remained scoreless as Coventry killed the penalty but the West Midlands club were straight back under pressure as Lukas Lundvald and Shawn Boutin fired heavy shots towards Matt Hackett in the Blaze goal. Luckily for Danny Stewart’s men they both slipped just wide of the goal and the deadlock would not be broken in the first period.
There was an injury concern early in the second for Blaze as Kevin Noble appeared to have a painful leg injury after blocking a shot. Dundee’s Charles Corcoran was so close to opening the scoring, after a great solo move, he was denied by Hackett but a few minutes later, the American had a strong case for a penalty shot. Corcoran used his speed to get past Alex Nikiforuk but the Canadian dove to the ice and tripped the Stars forward but the referees only gave Nikiforuk a two-minute minor penalty.
Again, Dundee could not capitalise on the powerplay but the away team began to take a hold of the game. Despite Jordan Cownie having a big chance to give Stars the lead, the Blaze went up the other end of the ice and scored.
Tim Crowder was waiting on the edge of the goal crease and managed to turn Bryhnisveen’s shot past Sjögren in the 33rd minute. However, Omar Pacha’s men were quick to respond as Matt Bissonnette tapped in the rebound of Drydn Dow’s shot after 35 minutes.
Even with Dundee pushing for the lead, it was their visitors that went back in front. Venus, took a pass in front of the Stars net, spun and released a quick shot that flew past Sjögren in the 38th minute.
2-1 down and with 20 minutes to save their hopes of making the playoffs, the Stars did not start the third period how they would have wanted to. Ben Lake made it 3-1 as he finished off Nikiforuk’s cutback pass in the 50th minute.
Brian Hart gave Dundee some hope with less than five minutes to play as Matt Marquardt fed a pass to him and from the edge of the crease, he slid the puck under Hackett. The home team came so close to equalising but the Blaze defence held on and with 10 seconds on the clock, Kevin Morris secured the win for Coventry with an empty net goal.
Dundee are now three points behind the Blaze and need to win all of their last three games, just to keep themselves in the hunt.