By Kris Smith
Stars face their oldest rivals, Fife Flyers in the biggest game of their season so far and they are also hoping for the biggest crowd of the year.
‘Operation Sell-out’ has been brought in to pack the DIA for the massive game against Fife Flyers and pre-sales have already surpassed the previous record in the Stars EIHL era.
The Tayside team were boosted by the return of their captain, Chris Lawrence after he was injured against Fife in September.
Last week Stars travelled to Kirkcaldy and the home side took an early two goal lead as Charlie Mosey and Jim Jorgensen combined before Stars pulled one back before the end of the first period through Jimmy Jensen.
The second period was the same as the first as Fife scored two more early goals, this time Carlo Finucci and Russ Moyer were the scorers, but Brian Hart netted late in the middle stanza to pull the score back to 4-2.
Liam Heelis quickly extended Flyers lead to 5-2 in the final period, although a quick answer through Lukas Lundvald started a chain reaction of goals for Dundee. Jensen, Jordan Cownie and a shorthanded goal by Marc-Olivier Mimar gave Stars the lead with less five minutes to go. However, Danick Gauthier drew the Flyers level in the final two minutes after Fife pulled their goalie.
No one found a winner in overtime and Malcolm Gould was the only player to score a penalty shot and he won the extra point for Dundee.
Lukas Lundvald was chosen as the EIHL player of the week on Monday and the Stars young Danish forward is hungry for his side to get more points in this weekend’s matches.
Looking at the recent performances, he said: “I am really happy about the way we are playing as a team and the way we work together, everyone is playing as a unit and we delivered some great results night in and night out, I just hope it can continue.
“The guys and the organisation have really treated me well and all the fans have been amazing, I could not even dream about the way I have been treated here in Dundee.
“I am pretty happy with my start, we have only lost one game, when I have been here and we won six but everyone feels like the team has really stepped up.”
After receiving his award on Monday, Lukas added: “I was really happy and appreciated that somebody is noticing the hard work you try to do every night for your team and it was really great to be one of the guys who had the chance to change the games.
“However, I feel like many guys from our team could deserve it.”
The Danish forward believes Dundee’s speed could be the key to another win over Fife. He said: “Speed, a lot of speed, I think they have quite a few flat-footed defencemen but we just need to stick to our game plan and I hope we have a huge crowd on our back supporting us, hopefully we can give them a great game.
“It would be so big to get another four points, like I feel as team we are taking small steps every weekend but if we could get four points it would mean so much to the group.
“It would be great for us to get so many points this weekend, we have to start by taking it one night at a time and then just try to win as much as we can.”
Head coach, Omar Pacha has his team on a play-off push and so far, it has been very successful as they have climbed into tenth place in the league standings, just two spots off the final play-off place. Stars have quickly narrowed the gap between them and conference rivals, Braehead Clan to just three points with Dundee having three games in hand over Clan.
They are a single point behind ninth-placed Coventry Blaze and still have to face the English side twice in March.
As his side prepared for a big weekend, Pacha said: “It is great to go on this run and the confidence is high, but we have to remember what we do well and to do that going into the weekend.
“We want to keep playing Stars Hockey, fast, around the net and we want to play a good game system and overall I thought Sunday we were better in our system than Saturday.
“We want to use our speed and we truly believe we are one of the fastest teams in the league, so we want use that as our strength. Also making sure we clean up a bit defensively, it is going to be tight until the end of the year, so we have to make sure that we are a solid team in our own zone.
“I think things are going well just now but obviously we are not content with where we are in the standings.
“We are still in tenth place and haven’t won anything yet and we are not in a play-off spot so it’s really important to keep going and keep progressing, getting better week by week and to get the results.
“This weekend we can possibly get ourselves into that top eight, also it is really important to push for that conference and we are so close now, with a few wins we could be right behind Fife.
“We want make sure we keep pushing in the conference so those last few games against Fife actually mean something in the conference.
“I think the next few weeks will determine if we will be in the race for the conference or not, our next three games are in the conference, so if we get the results we are just going to creep our way up the standings.
“Especially against Fife, that’s a four-point hockey game in the conference, we are nine points behind them now, so if we cut that down to seven it gives us a chance to push for the last few games.
“Seven points with four games remaining against that team, anything is possible.
“Saturday’s game will dictate the conference, obviously it’s a huge game, having Larry (Chris Lawrence) back is a huge help.
“We have to be aware when they are on the ice and it is going to be important to do some good scouting on Friday and to make sure the boys are ready for the weekend and if we play the way we have been we should be fine.”