By Kris Smith
Stars clash with their oldest rivals, Fife Flyers this Saturday before returning home to take on Braehead Clan once more.
Dundee’s weekend starts with a trip to Kirkcaldy as they take on the ‘high-flying’ Flyers. After a disappointing defeat to Stars in their last meeting, Todd Dutiaume’s men put together eight straight wins before losing to Coventry Blaze last Sunday.
Stars also lost their winning streak last weekend as Braehead put seven goals past them to break their five-game winning streak at home and Clan also handed them their first loss of 2018.
The previous ‘Auld Rivalry’ games this season have went both ways, as each team has won both their home games so far. Stars claimed a 7-5 win in Dundee during the Challenge Cup group stage before losing the away tie 5-1.
Fife claimed a second 5-1 victory in Kirkcaldy during the first Gardiner Conference match between the two sides before Dundee won their last home game of 2017 by four goals to two.
Flyers recent run seen them pull off some impressive victories and that has propelled them up to third in the league standings plus they sit atop of the Gardiner Conference table.
They have played the least amount of games compared to every other team in the league and if they win their games in hand, then they could find themselves in first place if the results go their way.
They are also four points clear in the conference with games in hand against second place, Braehead. Fife sit on 22 points from twelve games, but Stars are 12 points behind and have played eleven games. Thus, victories against Fife and Braehead can help them climb the conference as well as the league table.
Four points this weekend would put Dundee just a single point outside of the play-off spots, with games in hand against Clan, who currently occupy eighth place but they can secure a three-point cushion if they defeat Edinburgh Capitals on Saturday evening.
Liam Heelis leads Fife in point scoring and currently sits on 12 goals and 25 assists from 30 league games. He is trailed by Danick Gauthier, who has 15 goals and 19 assists, also from 30 league games played. Evan Bloodoff is the Flyers top goal scorer as he has netted on 22 occasions, as well as assisting on 10 goals in 29 games.
Gabriel Lévesque still tops Dundee’s point scoring table with 9 goals and 29 helpers in 33 league games. His line mate, Marc-Olivier Mimar is in second place with 8 goals and 19 assists from 32 games. Malcolm Gould is Stars leading goal scorer, finding the net 11 times and assisting on 10 goals from 33 league matches.
From the four matches between Dundee and Fife this season, there has been no shortage of goals. Gould has put up 4 points for Stars including two powerplay goals, Jimmy Jensen has totalled 5 points, including two powerplay goals and one shorthanded goal. Lévesque has 5 points and Mimar 4. However, Dundee’s injured quartet have accounted for 8 of the points scored against Fife this season.
Meanwhile at the other end of the ice, Chase Schaber has put up 5 points against Dundee, including a powerplay and a shorthanded goal. Defenceman, Russ Moyer has assisted on 5 of his team’s goals against Stars. Peter Leblanc has 6 points, Bloodoff 5 and Heelis 4.
Stars have managed to score 7 powerplay goals against Dutiaume’s side this season and have stopped 18 of the 24 attempts Fife had to do the same. However, Stars will be without key defenceman, Riley Stadel as he has been side-lined for 4-6 weeks with a hand injury. Although Stars head coach, Omar Pacha is hopeful of having some of his injured plyers return to action in the next few weeks.
Pacha is confident going into this weekend that his team will continue their strong performances and get the job done, he said: “I think we can get the win, we have been playing a lot of conference games lately and we got a good win last time at home against Fife.
“However, they are a hot team right now, but we are playing good hockey too, the injuries we have are unfortunate but there is nothing we can do, we just have to keep pushing.
“Losing Stadel, was a big loss but it won’t change my look at the game, we still have to go out there and play 60 minutes again.
“Fife play a good game, but we played well for the first part against Braehead, if we cut out the individual mistakes then we will be fine.”
Jimmy Jensen believes he and his teammate stand a good chance of claiming their first win in Fife, he said: “Everyone is excited and we are looking forward to the big challenge of playing our two biggest rivals this weekend.
“This week’s training has been good and we’re feeling confident going into the weekend.
“We need to be ready from the start and play our game over 60 minutes, the last couple of games we’ve been successful staying out of the box, so we also need to stay disciplined.
“Every game is important at this stage of the season, so we have to be consistent over 60 minutes in every game to get the points we need to make the play-offs.”
Jensen has put in two impressive performances against the Flyers when they came to visit but hopes he can continue his good scoring form in Kirkcaldy. He added: “I just need to go out there and play my kind of hockey. Working hard, going to the net and hopefully I get a lucky bounce.”
Face-off is at 7:15pm in Kirkcaldy.