By Kris Smith
Stars travel to Belfast tonight to play their last game of the season, as they face the Giants hoping to repeat the result of their first game of the season back in September.
Dundee’s first game together as a team was against the Northern Irish outfit, where they claimed a 3-2 shootout win at the DIA and since then have won two of the five previous meetings between the two teams.
Belfast are without Jim Vandermeer for the final weekend of the regular season, as he picked up a two-game suspension. They were heavily defeated by recently crowned, back-to-back league champions, Cardiff 8-1 last night. Giants were missing nine players from their squad during their road game in Wales, most notably David Rutherford, Mark Garside, John Kurtz and goaltenders Jackson Whistle and Stephen Murphy.
Stars were narrowly defeated last night after a late goal from Nottingham stole the points in Tayside, despite a strong comeback from Omar Pacha’s men. They played without the injured Riley Stadel and recovering Chris Lawrence, but youngsters Kris Inglis and Ben Edmonds received a lot of ice time and would have taken a lot from the experience of playing against a top side like Nottingham. Edmonds even picked up an assist, it was a perfect play from the Dundee-born forward as he teed up Marc-Olivier Mimar for the opener.
After stealing the points in the 3-2 shootout win on home ice, Dundee were defeated 7-4 in Belfast before the Giants claimed their first points in Tayside after a 5-2 win. In mid-November, just as Stars found some form they shutout the Giants 2-0 at the DIA. However, they could not repeat such a perfect performance in Northern Ireland, as the last match ended in a 6-4 win for Adam Keefe’s men despite Stars putting up a tough fight.
Adam Harding, Jimmy Jensen and Riley Stadel have each scored three goals against the Giants this year, with Johan Andersson and Brian Hart each netting a pair against the Northern Irish side. Meanwhile Colin Shields, Darcy Murphy and Sebastien Sylvestre have each put three past the Stars over the past five meetings, although Brendan Connolly has scored an impressive six goals against Omar Pacha’s men this year.
Belfast currently sit fifth in the table and are guaranteed a finish of sixth place or higher, a win for the Giants and with all the right results could see them claim third spot in the final standings but Dundee will be determined to ruin any teal parties. A likely victory for Nottingham in Edinburgh will see Panthers claim third spot and a scrap between Sheffield and Manchester will determine if Adam Keefe’s side go into the playoffs without the choice of home advantage.
Stars are confined to tenth place and have been since exiting the playoff race.
Tonight’s game at the SSE Arena faces-off at 5pm.
One million people have taken in an Elite League game this season, as the league announced that this season’s total attendance numbers surpassed one million after last night’s matches. 102,477 people watched Dundee play this season, with that figure set to be finalised after tonight’s game.