BELFAST GIANTS 4 TRADE-MART DUNDEE STARS 1
The Trade-Mart Dundee Stars battled hard but came up short on their opening game of the 2023-2024 season as they went down in Belfast, 4-1 to the Giants after two late goals in their first Challenge Cup Group A fixture.
By Kris Smith
The Stars arrived in Belfast with only one player missing from the line-up as forward, Jake Elmer did not travel due to illness and the Giants were missing three players from their roster, most notably former Star, Elijiah Barriga, who would have been making his Belfast Elite League debut against his former club.
The first period would be a closely fought encounter as both teams battled hard with the play going end-to-end but it would still be scoreless after 20 minutes.
The first dangerous chance would go the way of the Stars as a long pass found forward, James Phelan as he went through on the Belfast goal but he would be unable to jam his shot past Giants keeper, Tyler Beskorowany.
At the other end, Stars goalie, Kevin Carr made an excellent glove save to keep Sean Norris’s effort out as the Belfast forward attempted to lift the puck over his glove with a cross-goal finish.
The home team would be unable to capitalise on a late powerplay chance as Dundee’s Sean Allen was punished for interference, however they quickly broke the deadlock at the start of the period as Mark Cooper batted in the opener.
Just 66 seconds into the middle stanza, Carr would make the first stop on the shot Daniel Tedesco before the rebound went up in the air and would be batted in by Cooper at the left post.
Marc LeFebvre’s men were then given a chance to find a quick reply as they went on the man advantage in the 23rd minute after Jacob Friend was called for a trip on Josh Brittain.
The Stars failed to find a leveller and would soon be two goals behind after a well worked passing move between Ciaran Long, Greg Printz and Ara Nazarian was finished off by the latter at the back post, doubling the home side’s lead on 33 minutes.
With the game starting to slip away from them, the Stars soon stepped up and began to claw their way back and created a few good chances, with Johnny Walker capitalising on one in the final minutes of the second stanza.
Dundee captain, Drydn Dow drove hard to the Giants net before flicking a backhanded effort off the mask of Beskorowany and the rebound would pop out for the arriving Walker to lift home into the top of the net.
With the Giants lead cut back down to just one goal, the Stars needed a good start to the final period to get themselves back on level terms quickly but Dow would take a tripping penalty just 10 seconds after the restart.
However, Adam Keefe’s side would regain their tw0-goal advantage after 46 minutes when Long stepped into a rebound and buried it past Carr.
Dundee would continue to try and fight their way back into the game but a few penalties halted their efforts and in the final minute, LeFebvre yanked goalie, Carr for the extra attacker but Belfast’s Quinn Preston would quickly steal possession and fire into an empty net from his own half.
The Giants claimed a home ice win to begin their season and their title defence of last season’s treble, but the two sides will meet again tomorrow in Dundee, with another tough tie ahead for both teams.
Man of the Match
Dundee: #6 Drydn Dow
Belfast: #89 Ciaran Long
1-0 Mark Cooper (Daniel Tedesco, Ben Lake) 21:06
2-0 Ara Nazarian (Greg Printz, Ciaran Long) 33:46 PPG
2-1 Johnny Walker (Drydn Dow, Tommy Parrottino) 38:21
3-1 Ciaran Long (Oliver Cooper, Matthew McLeod) 46:15
4-1 Quinn Preston (Ara Nazarian) 59:02 ENG
All images: William Cherry/Presseye.