By Kris Smith
Stars pulled off an amazing comeback in Kirkcaldy last night before sealing a four-point weekend after a long penalty shootout.
Coming off the back of last night’s 3-0 victory against Flyers, Dundee had a full roster available again, while Fife were without the suspended Paul Crowder and third-choice goalie, Craig Douglas.
Fife had the early possession but created nothing to trouble Dundee, although after a high-flying performance last night, Stars were quickly brought down. Mike Cazzola gave Flyers the lead in the third minute after he was given time and space to get a shot off and the puck came off the right post before passing Pontus Sjögren.
The Stars faithful responded loudly and tried to encourage a comeback from their side but Dundee were unable to draw themselves level. Dundee’s Jordan Cownie was first to be penalised for holding in the fourth minute but just after he returned to the ice, the home side doubled their lead. The first shot from Brett Bulmer was saved before the rebound was finished off by Ricards Birzins in the sixth minute.
It was then Stars’ turn on the powerplay as Scott Aarssen was boxed for kneeing in the ninth minute. Fife killed off the minor but a few minutes later, they were back on the man advantage as Mike Sullivan was called for slashing in the 17thminute. It did not take long for Flyers to move 3-0 ahead, 15 seconds into the powerplay. A shot from the point hit Marcus Basara, who was standing in front of the Stars goalie before he tucked the puck under Sjögren.
There was some late pressure form Stars but Owen did well to protect the lead. Todd Dutiaume’s men took a comfortable three goal cushion into the first break and Omar Pacha needed a response from his Stars.
Dundee had a good start to the middle period and were quickly on the attack, they could have had an early goal when Matt Marquardt’s shot was not held but the Fife defence quickly cleared. The visitors were given a second chance on the powerplay as Fife’s Danick Gauthier was binned for two minutes on a holding call in the 25thminute.
After killing the penalty, Flyers applied some heavy pressure on the Stars but they were able to handle it. Just after the halfway mark, Lukas Lundvald was penalised for tripping and that gave the home team their third powerplay opportunity of the night.
Owen made a good save with his blocker to deny Marquardt shorthanded but that was the only action on the man advantage. Just as it began to look like Stars would never score, they did.
Inside the 35thminute, a well worked play by Stars around the Fife zone ended with a long shot from Matt Bissonnette being saved but Drydn Dow drifted in at the backdoor to knock in the rebound. Stars had control of the game for the rest of the period but were unable to reduce the deficit any further before the second break.
Again, Marquardt was creating offence early, as he was denied from the slot, shortly after the restart. Stars went back on the powerplay as Evan Stoflet was boxed for holding in the 42nd minute. As Dundee’s chance expired, Fife gained a man advantage when Petr Chaloupka was deemed guilty of tripping in the 45thminute but that penalty was also killed off.
Sjögren made a huge save to deny Bulmer in the 52ndminute and keep the Flyers within touching distance and shortly after that, a too-many men call against Fife put Basara in the box on the 53rd minute mark. That was just the break Dundee needed and they quickly regained control of the match.
Marquardt was again denied by Owen as the Fife keeper sprawled out to rob the Canadian of Dundee’s second goal. Despite the powerplay concluding, Stars were still dictating the play. They made a good move forward before Cownie took the puck past all the Fife defenders and beat Owen with less than three minutes to play.
Dundee quickly equalised just over a minute later, as Bissonnette scored into a gaping net after the Fife keeper was down and out after making the initial save. Overtime was required but even with early pressure from Fife, Dundee got forward well. There were some late chances for the home side but great defending by Stars kept them out and forced a shootout.
Fife went first but Carlo Finucci’s shot down the middle was easily saved by Sjögren before Marquardt fired Dundee into the lead with a shot off the bar. Evan Bloodoff managed to get one past the Dundee keeper but Connor Cox was denied.
Joe Basaraba waited too long and missed his opportunity before François Bouchard beat Owen up high. Mike Cazzola scored high on Sjögren’s glove side but Brian Hart’s effort was saved.
Bulmer got his shot through the legs of Sjögren but the Swede did well to kick his legs to the side and steer the puck wide of goal. Lundvald was unable to seal the win for Stars and sudden-death shots began with Dundee shooting first.
Marquardt was sent out again and deked the puck around Owen and into the goal. Gauthier faked his way past the Stars goalie. Bouchard was denied by the stick of Owen on his second attempt. At the other end, Bloodoff was also denied by with stick.
Marquardt was off target on his third shot before Basara had fooled Sjögren and was shooting into a gaping net but the Dundee keeper recovered to make an outstanding kick-save. During the highlight reel save, the Swede picked-up a lower body injury.
Corcoran gave Stars the advantage after firing back across goal and putting his shot out of Owen’s reach. The injured Sjögren carried on but was unable to stop Bulmer. Corcoran went again but a blocker save kept his shot out. In came Craig Holland for Dundee and he did enough to force Cazzola to shoot over the target.
Marquardt was wide of goal on his fourth attempt and Basaraba suffered the same fate. In the 12thround of penalty shots, Bouchard deked the puck past Owen and lifted his shot into the net before Holland made a blocker save against Bloodoff to win the game for Stars.
‘Man of the Match’ prizes were given to Mike Cazzola and Dundee’s Drydn Dow but he sent Holland forward to collect it after making the game-winning-save. Omar Pacha’s men have no time to celebrate their four-point weekend, fourth-straight win over Fife and second win in a row as the Belfast Giants come to Dundee in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals on Wednesday.