By Kris Smith
Stars ended their losing streak with a win over their rivals and got their first shutout of the season.
Fife Flyers began their Gardiner Conference title defence on Saturday night in Dundee without Reece Cochrane, Calum Robertson, Craig Douglas and Chase Schaber. Meanwhile, the Kitmart Dundee Stars were at full-strength.
It was not the start Stars were hoping for as they went on the penalty kill in the second minute as Matt Bissonnette was penalised for slashing. Dundee made an important clearance before a hooking call against Fabrizio Ricci left the hosts two men short for 24 seconds. However, Stars produced a great defensive display to shut down the Flyers.
Dundee’s François Bouchard fired a good shot that was held by Shane Owen before Bissonnette headed back to the penalty box, this time on a misconduct penalty for unsportsmanlike behaviour in the eighth minute.
The home side were again impressive in their own end before capitalising whilst shorthanded. Stars captain, Johan Andersson picked out the top left corner to beat Owen in the ninth minute. Inside the 11thminute, Dundee went on the powerplay as Paul Crowder was boxed on a charging call, however the home side were not able to add a second goal.
It soon became a 4-on-4 situation when Drydn Dow was charged with interference in the 12thminute but both teams soon returned to full-strength. Fife’s Rick Pinkston picked up penalties for holding and roughing on a delayed call that lasted for nearly a minute but Stars were unable to make their opposition pay despite having four minutes with the extra skater. Stars held onto their one-goal lead going into the first break.
Dundee had a better start to the second period as a shot from Kris Inglis was tipped by Brian Hart and that was enough to beat Owen in the 22ndminute. Hart’s performance continued to impress as he tied-up a Flyer to win possession and ended Fife’s pressure in the Stars end, following the goal. There were some handbags between Petr Chaloupka and Brett Bulmer but it was quickly doused out by the officials. Omar Pacha’s side had controlled the game and gave the Flyers nothing to work with and they did well to break-up any attacks from Fife. The home side were working the puck around well and were dragging their opponents out of position, from this they gained a powerplay as Ricards Birzins was charged with interference in the 39th minute.
There was short delay as Bouchard was in trouble with the referees for not having his fight strap fastened and was forced to return to the Dundee bench. Stars were continuing to attack and out-shoot Todd Dutiaume’s men when Matt Marquardt missed a good chance. His low shot was held by the Fife keeper.
Dundee took a 3-0 lead with a powerplay goal after a few shots came in at Owen, but he could not hold onto any and the loose rebound was eventually poked home by Jordan Cownie. Despite a review of the goal by Referee, Toby Craig, the call on the ice stood. One minute later, Crowder returned to the sin bin to serve a 2+10 for checking to the head penalty.
Dundee’s Danish forward, Lukas Lundvald found himself through on goal but his slapshot went straight into the chest of Owen. After Fife killed off the powerplay, Connor Cox chased down a loose puck into the Flyers end. He then fed a pass to Charles Corcoran who tried to catch Owen off guard at his near post but his effort was stopped by a simple save.
Stars were back on the man advantage when Evan Stoflet was called for slashing in the 37thminute but again the chance was wasted. Just after Stoflet returned to the ice, Corcoran seen his dangerous effort that was destined for the top corner, denied by an excellent save from Owen. Dundee had firm control of the game after 40 minutes but everyone was wondering if Fife would show what they are capable of in the third period.
Mike Cazzola took an early penalty and sat for two minutes on a hooking call in the 42ndminute but the visitors again killed it off. Cownie forced a good shoulder save from Owen but the goalie was unable to cover the puck before Lundvald tried and failed to tuck it into the wide-open goal. Bulmer was caught slashing in the 47thminute but Stars would remain on just one powerplay goal for the evening, after eight attempts.
The Flyers powerplay unit finally got some ice time again, as Shawn Boutin was penalised for holding in the 50thminute. From then on Dundee were quite happy to see out the game and rest their legs for tomorrow’s clash in Kirkcaldy.
However, Pontus Sjögren was made to work for his shutout in the dying moments. The Swede made one stop before the rebound landed on the stick of a Flyer but he dove down to his right post to keep it out. Stars went on to seal their first clean sheet and end a five-game losing streak.
‘Man of the Match’ awards were given to Mike Cazzola and Dundee’s Johan Andersson. Stars have less than 24 hours to prepare for another meeting with their old foes. Fife host Dundee tonight as Stars look for their fourth straight win over Flyers this season and their second four-point weekend.