By Kris Smith
The Kitmart Dundee Stars were prevented from ending their poor run of form in the Elite League by a clinical Belfast Giants side that took their chances.
The home side were dominant in the opening minutes but were on the defensive after five minutes as Kevin Raine was penalised for a tripping foul.
However, Belfast killed off the penalty before opening the scoring on 8 minutes as Patryk Wronka slid the puck between the legs of Alex Leclerc, after being played in behind the Dundee defence by Lewis Hook.
The Stars were not behind for long as Matt Marquardt beat Shane Owen with a sneaky and fast shot over the Belfast goalie’s right shoulder.
The Stars captain fired the puck towards the near side post but it hit the back post and bounced out, fooling the referees, who then reviewed the play before confirming the goal in the 10th minute.
Although, the score would again change just minutes later as Jordan Smotherman flicked a shot into the top right corner of Leclerc’s net to put the Giants back in front on 12 minutes.
The rest of the action in the first period was all back and forth chances but inside the final two minutes, Dundee defender, Shawn Boutin was called for hooking and Adam Keefe’s side capitalised on the man advantage to increase their lead, just 28 seconds before the first break.
It was again Smotherman who found the net as he was the fastest player to react to a shot that was initially stopped by Leclerc but slipped through and dropped behind the Dundee netminder for an easy tap in.
Omar Pacha’s men made the perfect start to the second period as Elgin Pearce followed up Anthony Beauregard’s shot and with everyone unaware of where the puck was, Pearce caught sight of it and whacked it into a wide-open net after just 33 seconds.
Despite Dundee putting some pressure on the Northern Irish side, their hard work to close the gap would again be undone as Matt Pelech scored Belfast’s fourth goal of the night in the 28th minute.
The Giants forward skated the puck across the face of the Dundee net and waited until Leclerc was at full stretch before tucking it around him and into the net.
Just as the game began to get even closer, both sides looking capable of scoring the next goal, the home team gave themselves some breathing room.
Lewis Hook turned in the rebound from Paul Swindlehurst’s shot that was stopped by the leg pad of Leclerc, but he was unable to prevent Hook from having a tap in to make it 5-2 after 37 minutes.
With Pearce in the Stars penalty box for a slashing foul, the Giants again took full advantage of their man advantage and this time it was Jean Dupuy who got the crucial touch on Pelech’s shot, to send the puck past Leclerc inside the final minute of the second session.
Dundee were again left a skater down as Beauregard was called for hooking with one second left on the clock, leaving the Stars shorthanded to start the third period.
The third period seen some true emotion come through as just two minutes into the final period, Pearce and Dupuy dropped the gloves and went toe-to-toe. Both players landed some punches but it was the Belfast forward who stood for the longest in what was a quick fight.
Keefe’s side would round off the scoring in the 47th minute with their seventh goal and it was scored by Jesse Forsberg.
He fired a shot in from high in the Dundee end and it somehow fooled Leclerc and slipped past the Stars keeper.
The Tayside team continued to fight until the end but could not find a way to net any consolation goals.
The final score at the SSE Arena was 7-2 but Dundee have no time to dwell as they return home and go right into the next match against Glasgow Clan on Saturday at 7pm.
Tickets are available HERE.
Man of the Match:
Dundee: #37 Matt Marquardt
Belfast: #24 Brian Ward
1-0 Wronka (Hook) 08:15
1-1 Marquardt (Beauregard, Pearce) 11:13
2-1 Smotherman (Leonard, Ward) 12:10
3-1 Morgan (Smotherman, Leonard) 19:32 PPG
3-2 Pearce (Beauregard, Marquardt) 20:33
4-2 Pelech (Ward, Smotherman) 27:13
5-2 Hook (Swindlehurst, Ward) 37:06
6-2 Dupuy (Pelech, Long) 39:21 PPG
7-2 Forsberg (Smotherman) 46:34