By Kris Smith
The Kitmart Dundee Stars secured their place in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals despite being defeated on penalty shots after coming back from a three-goal deficit against Glasgow Clan.
Dundee’s Matt Bissonnette missed his 11th consecutive match and the forward is set to be out for a few more weeks with an upper body injury. Captain Zack Fitzgerald remained on the injury list for Glasgow.
It was a great start for the Clan as Matt Beca’s pass to Travis Ehrhardt, allowed the defenceman to fire a quick shot past the screened Pontus Sjögren after just 40 seconds.
Stars were given the first man advantage of the night as Rasmus Bjerrum was called for slashing in the second minute. There were a few big chances for Dundee to equalise as Joel Rumpel was forced to cover up a few loose rebounds after he stopped some difficult shots.
Other notable chances included Connor Cox’s shot hitting the side netting after a quick slap pass by Lukas Lundvald. Also, Brian Hart managed to tip a Matt Marquardt shot but it could not beat the Clan goalie. Glasgow returned to full strength before they were given their first powerplay on the six-minute mark, as Shawn Boutin was boxed for holding.
The home side caused some alert for the Stars defence but it came to nothing before the powerplay ended. Charlie Corcoran and François Bouchard both failed to get their shot away on dangerous chances in the slot. Dundee’s Jordan Cownie showed some creativity in the offensive zone before cutting back and firing a shot but Rumpel was equal to it.
Omar Pacha’s men were back on the powerplay after Boutin was tripped-up by Scott Tanski in the 15th minute. Once again Glasgow killed it off but just as Tanski stepped out of the box, he picked up a loose puck and skated into the Stars end but fired over the goal.
Brendan Connolly was penalised for slashing in the 19th minute, leaving Glasgow shorthanded and they could have lost their lead, if not for the fast reactions of Rumpel to cover up a rebound in front of Cownie.
Stars were peppering the Clan goalie with shots in the final two minutes but still failed to beat him. Pete Russell’s side held onto their 1-0 lead until the first break. Glasgow killed the remaining time on the Connolly penalty before a Mike Sullivan diving poke check took the chance away from Josh Gratton.
Cox slashed Connolly to stop the forward getting his shot off after getting through on goal, leaving Stars on the penalty kill. One minute into the powerplay, Jack Musil’s shot from the right circle went off the under-side bar to double Glasgow’s lead in the 23rd minute. Michal Gutwald’s shot was gloved by Sjögren as the Clan attacks continued but they missed a huge chance when Ehrhardt fired his shot across the face of goal inside the 24th minute.
Cownie was boxed for roughing in the 25th minute and while on the powerplay, Craig Peacock was waiting on the doorstep but was swiftly denied by the Stars keeper. Just after the penalty expired, Peacock beat Sjögren with a low tap in at the backdoor to make it 3-0 in the 28th minute.
Bjerrum rattled the Dundee post with less than six minutes to play in the second stanza before an Erhardt slapshot bounced off the pad of Sjögren but the Swede was quick to get the play blown down.
A good check from Kris Inglis allowed Stars to break and from the chance Lundvald fired his shot off the post but Marquardt was there to apply the finishing touch with 58 seconds left to play. Then to the Stars fans amazement, Bouchard released a shot from deep in the Clan end that flew past Rumpel, 30 seconds after they scored their first goal.
Omar Pacha’s men had responded late to tee-up an intense third period, Dundee had an excellent start to the third as Cownie’s shot was blocked but Bouchard was there to knock the puck over the shoulder of Rumpel, with a backhanded shot in the 43rd minute, tying it at 3-3. Jordan Kelsall then had a chance on the breakaway after the restart but his shot was blocked and sent over the Clan net.
Drydn Dow was put into the held by Glasgow’s Gerard Hanson in the 45th minute, putting Stars on the powerplay and it did not take long for Marquardt to blast one past Rumpel from the left circle, 16 seconds into the man advantage. In the 49th minute, Matt Stanisz was boxed for cross checking Lundvald behind the play.
Clan killed off the penalty before a few moments later, equalising through Hanson, his shot trickled past Sjögren in the 53rd minute. Stars were back on the powerplay when Connolly was penalised for high sticks in the same minute and Coach Pacha seen that as the perfect time to use his timeout and inspire his Stars side.
Clan killed off the two-minute minor before Johan Andersson made one too many passes and wasted a good chance for Dundee inside the final three minutes. Overtime would be required to find a winner but a point would be enough to seal Stars qualification.
Stars were heavily dominating and Andersson knocked home a loose rebound but Referee Toby Craig had already blown the whistle, after the goal game off its moorings. Dundee put the puck in the net again, this time it was Cownie but once again the net was dislodged inside the 63rd minute.
Penalty shots would once again decide the winner between these two sides, Bouchard went first for Dundee and beat Rumpel between his legs before Scott Pitt was denied by Sjögren. Dow was next for Stars and was denied at the last minute by the toe of Rumpel, Bjerrum then picked out the bottom left corner to draw Clan level. Fabrizio Ricci was also denied by the pad of Rumpel before Connolly was stopped only by the crossbar.
Corcoran managed to get his shot between the legs of the Glasgow goalie but not across the line prior to Erhardt taking Clan’s fourth penalty but he was denied by the pad of Sjögren. Marquardt failed to hit the target before Beca beat Sjögren to seal a second straight penalty shootout win for Clan over Stars.
Travis Ehrhardt and Dundee’s François Bouchard were rewarded with the ‘Man of the Match’ awards. This weekend sees Stars face-off in Manchester with the Storm on Saturday before a Sunday evening clash at home against the current league leaders, the Nottingham Panthers.