By Kris Smith
A fully-fit Stars line-up, without the yet to arrive Fabrizio Ricci, took on EHC Freiburg who were only without two players due to injury, notably Radek Havel, one of four imports in the Wolves side.
The opening minutes were full of end-to-end action, but no chances were created. Jordan Cownie picked up a loose puck in front of the visitor’s goal and dragged it around the Freiburg defenceman before he forced a good save from Matthias Nemec.
After some strong Dundee pressure Matt Marquardt sent a pass to the high slot but Stars defenceman Mike Sullivan fired his first time shot off the post. A big hit by Marquardt in front of the bench sent Freiburg’s Christoph Frankenberg to dressing room for some treatment but he would later return to the action.
Christian Neuert forced a good blocker save from Pontus Sjögren in the sixth minute as the Dundee debutant was finally tested. Then a one-timer from Nikolas Linsenmaier from the left circle brought another quick save from the Stars goalie. A few moments later there was a big scare for the German’s as their goalie missed the puck after trying to play it round the boards, although Stars could not take advantage of Nemec’s mistake.
Some creative play by Brian Hart led to the American feeding a pass into the slot for two awaiting Dundee players but they were unable to control possession. The first penalty of the game was called by referee Toby Craig, just after the ten-minute mark as Marvin Neher sat for two minutes on an interference call. Stars defender, Shawn Boutin was next to rattle the frame of the goal. Tensions flared as neither side could break the deadlock and Sullivan went close again with another good shot but it was a comfortable save for Nemec. After some penalties were called late in the first period, still no one could find the opening goal before the break.
Omar Pacha’s men started off the second stanza of play even stronger and it was not long before another chance beckoned. Matt BISSONNETTE was able to pick out the top shelf in the 24th minute and open the account for Dundee in their first game of the year. A few more penalties racked up for each team, but it was the home side that went on the powerplay and it did not take long for BOUTIN to double the lead, his one-timed effort went in off the post in the 27th minute.
Alex Barron dived to the ice to block a long pass that would have played Cownie straight through on goal. Some beautiful play by the Dundee forwards in the 33rd minute seen an interchange of passing before Charlie CORCORAN skated the puck through the heart of the Freiburg defence, then rounded the keeper and banked the puck off of a sliding defender.
Now 3-0 down, Leos Sulak’s side tried to find a quick answer. Sofiene Bräuner tried to catch the Dundee goalie off guard but the shot was easily gloved by the Swede. The veteran shot stopper then cut out a dangerous pass to prevent the German team from pulling one back on the powerplay and moments later he had to deal with a bouncing puck but it was still no trouble for him as he made the save comfortably. Stars ended the middle period two men short after picking up two delay of game penalties in the final minutes.
Dundee killed off both penalties and were quickly back on the attack as François Bouchard seen his first time shot saved. The home team were back on the defensive after being penalised for too-many men. There was some good pressure from Freiburg but Sjögren was up to the task. The visitors went on a 5-on-3 powerplay after Drydn Dow was sent to the box for tripping.
Pacha’s men killed off the first penalty and before the second expired, the Dundee keeper made a solid save with his head. Stars then failed to capitalise on a powerplay of their own.
Sergei Stas missed a huge opportunity at the back door of the Dundee net but moments later, a pass from the left corner is met by Marc WITTFOTH at the back post and he sent it past Sjogren for the Freiburg opener in the 54th minute.
However, it did not take long for the three-goal lead to be restored as BOUCHARD pinpointed an opening in the top corner of the German’s goal in the 55th minute. Lukas Lundvald created a dangerous opportunity for Stars to increase their lead as he sent a pass to Sullivan but Nemec flashed his glove to deny Sullivan of his first Stars goal.
There was a good break by Cownie and Dow as they rushed down the ice in the final minutes, Cownie’s shot was saved by Nemec before DOW followed up to tuck home the rebound in the 59th minute. The ‘Man of the Match’ awards were given to Wittfoth of Freiburg and Stars’ Bouchard.
Looking to the second match with Freiburg, Matt Marquardt explains what he and the team are hoping to accomplish in their final preparation match.
He said: “I think everyone is just trying to get a feel for getting back into gameplay, getting that timing back and the game pace.
“You can practice all you want but it is not going to give you the feel for a game, hockey is a read and react game.
“I think what we are trying to gain from this is just to get used to one another and our line-matchups, learning to play with one and other and to get a few games under our belt going into the Elite League season.”
After having an excellent end to last season, forward, Lukas Lundvald is hoping to get his goalscoring act off to a quick start before the competitive matches begin.
He said: “I hope to get a quick one in, in one of the games, if I can score one and feel comfortable before next season and before we start against Belfast.
“I think we might see what we can accomplish as a team and you can always see the signs in the first games of what a team can do and I hope we put on a good show for the fans.”
The teams will do it all again on Sunday as the final preseason game gets underway at 5pm.