By Kris Smith
A punishing powerplay unit helped Stars overcome Milton Keynes despite a quick start by the hosts.
Adam Harding was ruled out after a training injury he sustained during the week and Lightning were still without Kyle Essery for a crucial clash in the bottom half of the standings. Marc-Olivier Mimar and Anthony Mastrodicasa also missed out for Dundee.
The home side took an early lead after just thirty-seven seconds of play, a tap-in on the near post by Kevin King put the puck past Travis Fullerton after a chaotic opening thirty seconds. Lewis Hook came close in second minute but was denied by the Stars netminder as he made his first save of the night. Dundee tied the game at 3:18 after Malcolm Gould’s wrist shot went into the far side of the net as he beat Wiikman from the right circle.
Lightning quickly restored their lead through Christian Isackson, the puck went across the crease and Denny Kearney set-up Isackson as he shot the puck into the roof of the net from the doorstep at 2:35. A late hit by Milton Keynes forward, Alex Forbes put Stars on the game’s first powerplay but it was killed off by Pete Russell’s men with ease.
Good pressure from Dundee tested the Lightning defences but a turnover led to an attack from home side. They worked the puck across the ice as they skated into the Stars zone, the move was finished off by King with a shot that went high past Fullerton at 8:34. Hook was denied again by Fullerton, this time by pads from point blank range.
A slashing penalty against Jordan Cownie was killed off as the home team failed to capitalise on their first man advantage. Dundee had another powerplay opportunity and one attack seen a shot redirected multiple times before being saved by Miika Wiikman. It became a 5-on-3 situation when Matt Nickerson was charged with slashing.
Omar Pacha’s men took full advantage of their extra two skaters as the puck went across the crease to the backdoor and the waiting Gould, who shot it home . Lukas Lundvald was hooked on his breakaway and after he fell in front of the Milton Keynes goalie, one Stars player shot it into the net. The play was review but referees Matt Rose and Tom Darnell washed it out. Dundee were working hard in the final minutes of the first period but were given no reward, the closest they came was when one shot rattled the post.
Lundvald tied the game up at 3-3 just one minute into the middle period. Some quick movement by the Dane before his shot from the blueline flew past Wiikman. Dundee killed off a penalty before getting their second 5-on-3 of the night, albeit a short one after the Milton Keynes netminder was penalised for tripping. Stars almost took the lead when a puck went high and over Wiikman before it dropped on the goal line but was quickly cleared away by the Lightning defence. Upon review it was deemed no goal. Gould was robbed of his hat-trick when he fired a fast snapshot that was saved by the tip of Wiikman’s stick. Despite heavy pressure from Dundee, they still couldn’t get the lead before the end of the second period.
An early powerplay for Milton Keynes was killed off before some end-to-end action ran down the clock in the third period as the game remained tied at 3-3. Isackson picked up a holding-the-stick penalty in the fiftieth minute and Omar Pacha’s men took full advantage.
Stars recovered the puck in their own end before creating a 3-on-1 attack, the puck was passed to Dundee’s top point scorer, Gabriel Lévesque and he rifled it into the top corner to give Dundee the lead at 50:25. The away team got their third 5-on-3 powerplay but could not extend their lead.
A stoppage with just under ninety seconds left saw Milton Keynes head coach, Russell pull his netminder after a timeout. Some excellent defending from Dundee prevented the Lightning from scoring an equaliser but no one could put the puck in the empty net.
The final buzzer sounded and Dundee claimed a 4-3 Victory and two points that tied them with Milton Keynes on the 27-point mark in the Elite League standings. Christian Isackson and Stars’ Malcolm Gould were picked as the ‘Man of the Match’ award winners.
Photo: Tony Sargent