By Kris Smith
The Kitmart Dundee Stars were in need of some points and had a chance to hold onto two of them at home against the Cardiff Devils on Sunday.
It was not the start Dundee would have hoped for as Jagger Dirk hit the ice after just 30 seconds of play, as he was driven into the boards by Cardiff’s Stephen Dixon.
The Canadian took a few moments to get up before skating over to the Stars bench but he would return to still play on.
It was an attacking start from the Welsh side and Dundee found themselves in trouble as defenseman, Duncan Speirs failed in his attempt to clear the puck and it was kept in by Masi Marjamäki.
The Finn kept possession away from the home team and began to exchange passes with his teammates.
Eventually the puck came to Matthew Myers after he had found some space in front of the Dundee goal and once he received the puck, he sent a low shot across to the left that beat Dundee goalie, Alex Leclerc after just three minutes.
The Stars responded well and were getting forward with Brett Stovin being one of the main creators for his side but after finding no way past Ben Bowns in the Cardiff net, the game had a short quiet spell.
However, the attacking play was reinstated when Dundee’s Egils Kalns was sent to the penalty box for four minutes after accidentally catching one of his opponents with his stick after making a pass in the 11th minute.
Omar Pacha’s men killed off the penalty before having their first powerplay of the evening, minutes later.
Josh Batch retaliated to a hit on a him by Jordan Cownie and had a go at wiping Cownie out behind the play but it was straight in front of the referee and it sent him to the sin bin for two minutes on an interference charge after 15 minutes of play.
After killing off Batch’s penalty, the Devils then scored a second goal right before the first break as Sean McMonagle’s shot hit Leclerc but some how slipped behind the Dundee goaltender and into the net in the 19th minute.
With 20 seconds left in the first period, Cardiff’s Mark Louis picked up a two minute minor for cross-checking Drydn Dow and the Stars would have a man advantage to start the second session.
Andrew Lord’s men would be able to see out the rest of Dundee’s advantage but they would be back down to four skaters minutes later, as Bryce Reddick tripped up Kalns.
He was not lonely in the penalty box as Cardiff captain, Joey Martin joined him 47 seconds later as he was penalised for a slashing foul.
The Stars missed two huge chances to score on their five-on-three powerplay and the Devils would kill both penalties off but just when the visitors thought they had cleared the danger, Colton Kroeker got the Stars off the mark.
Dow had put a shot on target that was saved by Bowns but Kroeker kept chipping away at it and after hitting the puck into the leg pads of the Cardiff keeper twice, his third attempt sailed through the five-hole.
Dundee had reduced the reigning playoff champions lead to 2-1 on 26 minutes but 72 seconds after that, Dixon restored the Devils two-goal lead.
Dixon won the puck after a Dundee defensive error and he took it into the Stars end before producing a top shelf finish that was above the reach of Leclerc.
Omar Pacha’s side again responded well and created a few more dangerous scoring opportunities, such as in the 29th minute, when Matt Marquardt switched a pass across to Anthony Beauregard but the Canadian’s shot was well held by Bowns.
Just before the halfway point, the Tayside team were back on the penalty kill as a face-off violation meant that Kalns would serve the team’s two minute penalty.
The Stars defended excellently and put bodies on the line as defender, Reilly O’Connor blocked Matias Sointu’s shot with the side of his head to protect the goal, as Leclerc would have been unable to make a save from his position.
Shortly after, the travelling Red Army and Devils players were enraged at a call by Pavel Halas as they believed Sean Bentivoglio’s shot went over the Dundee goal line but the referee dismissed the claims.
The home fans then were given another thing to cheer about moments later as Dow was played in behind the Cardiff defence by Elgin Pearce in the 35th minute.
The defender only had Bowns in his way and got a shot off that but the Englishman kept it out by twisting his legs to stop the puck squeezing through.
However, Gleason Fournier was chasing Dow down and hooked him on the hip with his stick and it was spotted by the second referee, Allan Ward and he awarded a penalty shot to the Stars.
Dow took his time in the build-up, he drifted right before coming back towards the center and from close range sent a shot towards the bottom left corner that flew just over the leg pad of Bowns.
With Dundee now only trailing 3-2, they almost gave away another quick goal to undo all of their hard work.
Batch was pressuring Pearce in his own end and Marjamäki dispossessed the Stars forward but Craig Gans did well to force the puck loose from Marjamäki’s control and Leclerc made an easy save as Martin picked up the loose puck and got a shot off.
The second period ended with the road team leading 3-2 and the Stars would push hard early in the third to get the game-tying goal.
The Dundonians were on the attack for most of the first half of the final period and peppering the Devils netminder with shots.
The clocked ticked down to the final minutes with the Stars still searching for an equaliser but their chances took a hit as Gans was punished for a hooking foul and that put the team from Wales on the powerplay with three and a half minutes left.
Cardiff got the chance they needed to slow things down and take a step back, which allowed them to find a fourth goal that would secure the win.
Bentivoglio was standing behind the Dundee goal and from there he sent a pass out in front to Joey Haddad, who sent his shot off the crossbar and down into the net with just over two minutes left to play.
Pacha pulled his keeper with 70 seconds to go but they could not beat Bowns again and when the final buzzer sounded, their were some words exchanged by Beauregard and the Devils captain, Martin.
A pointless weekend for the Stars will put even more importance on picking up points next weekend when the Stars host the Manchester Storm and visit the Fife Flyers.
Man of the Match:
Dundee: #21 Colton Kroeker
Cardiff: #33 Ben Bowns
0-1 Myers (Batch, Marjamäki) 03:22
0-2 McMonagle (Fournier, Riley) 18:20
1-2 Kroeker (Dow, Cownie) 25:54
1-3 Dixon (Riley) 27:06
2-3 Dow (Unassisted) 35:01 PS
2-4 Haddad (Bentivoglio, Martin) 57:47 PPG