By Kris Smith
Stars look to return to winning ways on their Pink the Rink night with a second straight win over Belfast.
The Kitmart Dundee Stars return home after being shutout for the first time this season, after a 4-0 defeat to the Sheffield Steelers last night.
Belfast Giants extended their winning streak to four games after beating Fife Flyers 2-1 on Friday and Glasgow Clan 4-1 yesterday evening. Blair Riley and David Rutherford each netted once in Kirkcaldy before Riley grabbed a hat-trick in Braehead and Jonathon Boxill scored the final goal in the dying minutes. Riley’s hat-trick came in just 12 minutes of play, between the 25thand 37thminutes.
Colin Shields, Francis Beauvillier, Jonathon Ferland, Andrew Dickson and Matt Towe have yet to play a part in the Scottish weekend for Giants but head coach Adam Keefe will be unlikely to change a winning side. Tyler Beskorowany has played both matches this weekend but the possibility remains of Stephen Murphy being given the nod for the final game against his hometown team.
13 points separate the pace-setting Giants and 10thplaced Dundee however Stars have played two games less than Belfast. These two sides have met four times this season with Omar Pacha’s men claiming just a single win. The victory came in September when Stars skated to a 5-3 home win.
Mike Sullivan, Jordan Cownie, François Bouchard and Lukas Lundvald (2) all netted for the Tayside team. The other three games all went to Belfast as they won 4-1 and 2-1 at the SSE Arena after winning the first encounter in Dundee 4-2. Since their last match in October, Kevin Raine has re-joined the Northern Irish club.
Riley leads the Giants in points with 22 from 16 games but is closely followed by Rutherford on 21. Beskorowany has played 14 games for Giants and is top of the leagues goaltending stats after recording a goals against average of 1.75 and .939 save percentage.
Drydn Dow returned to the Stars line-up last night after missing just last weekend’s fixture.
Stars winger, Matt Bissonnette made his return from injury last weekend when Stars snapped their nine-game losing streak and said this after his return: “It is always nice to get back from injury, especially when the guys were so close to some wins and I could not be out there helping.”
Unfortunately for Stars, the Canadian was unable to ice last night in Sheffield but Matt remains positive about the season, he said: “We just have to keep pushing forward and stay positive, our bounces will come.
“We know we are a good team, the season is long and we have a lot of hockey left to play.”
Bissonnette, a former Giants player, hopes his teammates can grind down Belfast early in the game. He added: “Belfast will be playing their third game in three nights, so the key will be to get on them early and make sure they know it will be another long night for them.”
Face-off is at 5pm and it is Pink the Rink night, so all fans are encouraged to wear pink clothing in support of Breast Cancer Care in Scotland.