By Kris Smith
Omar Pacha’s play-off push success continued as his side skated to a 4-1 victory over Braehead and their second win of the weekend.
Stars pulled off a remarkable comeback to defeat their oldest rivals, Fife Flyers 7-6 after a shootout in Kirkcaldy. They put together a successful weekend despite being short benched once more as Adam Harding and Riley Stadel joined the injury list.
Lukas Lundvald had the best chance in the opening minutes, but his effort was deflected wide. Jimmy Jensen then got on the end of a Lundvald pass after Stars regrouped but the Swede could not tap it in at the back post. Brendan Brook gave Matt Haywood a chance to open the scoring but the Braehead forward could not connect with the pass.
Travis Fullerton was able to make the save on a hard shot from Jacob Doty a few seconds later, before the Dundee netminder made a few key stops to keep the Clan out in the middle stage of the opening period. Anthony Mastrodicasa unleashed a rocket of a shot towards Ryan Nie but the Braehead goalie tracked it all the way and made the save.
Gabriel Lévesque then got through one-on-one with Nie, but the Clan keeper spread himself out and got his glove on the puck to freeze the play. John Tripp’s men kept the puck in the Dundee end but could not get a clean shot away on multiple occasions, however that play ended with the puck stuck under the pads of Fullerton after Adam Brace tried to jam it home.
Stars Danish forward, Lundvald picked off a pass in the Braehead end and faked a slapshot before dragging the puck around Nie and shooting Stars into the lead at 13:50. Malcolm Gould picked up the first penalty of the night as he caught former Dundee player, Felix Antoine Poulin in the face with a high stick in the fifteenth minute.
Braehead’s, Landon Oslanski had his slapshot blocked by a teammate before the Gould penalty expired. Clan kept pushing for an equaliser late in first but got no reward as Dundee held out until the first break.
Stars got the restart they hoped for when Brian Hart won a battle on the boards to win possession back for Stars before he jammed it through the legs of Nie to double the lead just thirty-seven seconds into of the middle period. Braehead almost got a quick goal to peg Dundee back but the shot could not be directed goal ward.
Mastrodicasa was penalised in the twenty-fifth minute for slashing and that allowed Braehead to put the pressure on Dundee as they tried to get off the mark, but Fullerton made a number of key saves to keep Clan out. Michal Gutwald came close when his shot bounced off the post, but Stars held on to kill the penalty.
Craig Cescon picked up the Glasgow side’s first penalty for cross-checking in the twenty-ninth minute, as the home team got the opportunity to extend their lead. Omar Pacha’s powerplay unit bombarded the Braehead goal with shots but Nie and the Clan defence denied every attempt before Cescon was released from the box.
Gould and Oslanski then dropped the gloves as the pair exchanged punches before heading to the box for five minutes. A big rebound from the pads of Fullerton was shot first time by Bari McKenzie and he got Braehead on the board at 31:32.
Brace picked up a high-sticks penalty to release all the pressure Clan had built against the Tayside team. However, John Tripp’s men killed off Stars man advantage and then continued to threaten but Fullerton got down to make the save and stop the play on the shot from Cescon.
The Clan were hungry for an equaliser, but Stars hung onto their lead once more going into the second intermission. Omar Pacha’s men were creating good opportunities but he knew his side needed to start building a lead again.
Dundee were tested early on as Gould went to the box for a third time after picking up a hooking penalty in the forty-second minute. Emerson Hrynyk cut out a pass in the neutral zone before skating in on Nie and as the Clan keeper waited for Hrynyk to pass, he fired a wrist shot into the top corner over Nie’s glove at 42:35. The shorthanded goal extended Stars lead to 3-1.
Braehead increased their physical play but Dundee stayed disciplined, as the Clan’s game became unorganised and erratic as they desperately searched for a goal, but Fullerton made a glove save to stop play and calm things down.
Stars cleared up well in their defensive end to keep Braehead’s chances to a minimum. Cescon returned to the box as he was charged with holding in the fifty-fifth minute, but Stars could not put the game to bed.
John Tripp pulled goaltender, Ryan Nie as they tried to salvage a point, but Stars were creating turnover after turnover, before inevitably they found the net with ninety-two seconds remaining. Lundvald collected a rebound before firing the puck into the empty net.
Bari McKenzie and Dundee’s Emerson Hrynyk were awarded the ‘Man of the Match’ prizes. Stars have continued their climb up the Elite League table and now sit just three points off of Braehead and the last play-off spot and still have their two games in hand.
They face rivals, Fife Flyers at home on Saturday evening before heading to Edinburgh to take on the Capitals on Sunday, with four huge points up for grabs.
Saturday’s home game has been labelled “Operation Sell Out” as the huge clash between the Stars and Flyers will be a pivotal moment in both teams seasons and a packed out DIA will make the encounter, all that more thrilling.