By Kris Smith
The Kitmart Dundee Stars were at full strength once again for their Elite League clash with Coventry Blaze and they made a blistering start to the match.
The Blaze won the opening face-off and quickly went straight towards the Stars net, where they put a few shots on target but all were deflected on their way through.
The closest they got to the net was when one rebound dropped and landed on the outside of the post but the puck was quickly recovered by the Dundee defence.
The home team then went straight down the ice but once Coventry got men behind the puck, the Stars came under some pressure.
Anthony Beauregard looked to be out of options as he was holding up possession high in the Blaze zone and with players closing in on him, he quickly chipped a pass through the oncoming defenders to Kevin Dufour.
From there the Stars’ marksmen controlled the puck, turned and swiftly released a wrist shot that flew over the glove of Coventry goaltender, Jamie Phillips and into the top right corner.
The Stars had opened the scoring after just 67 seconds but they were handed another opportunity to add a second early goal as David Broll was sent to the Blaze penalty box for 12 minutes, as he was punished for making a hit from behind on an unsuspecting Stars player.
Janne Laakkonen served the two minute part of Broll’s penalty but he was only in the sin bin for half of that time as in the fourth minute, Jordan Cownie doubled Dundee’s lead.
Beauregard had sent the puck towards the net from a tight angle and it made it’s way right across the goal to Cownie, who was lurking at the back post to easily turn it home.
However, Omar Pacha’s men were then put down to four skaters as a penalty was called against Dundonian, Kris Inglis for allegedly, holding his opponents stick in the sixth minute.
The Tayside team killed off the penalty comfortably and they continued to rush their opponents with quick counter attacks but they were penalised again when a poorly co-ordinated line change left them with six skaters on the ice, resulting in a too many men penalty.
Dundee again survived the two minutes and even created a shorthanded chance as the captain, Matt Marquardt got in behind the Coventry defence but despite getting a quick and rising shot away, it rattled back off the crossbar.
Although, not long after their powerplay had ended, the visitors got onto the scoreboard.
Some heavy pressure from the Blaze forwards in the Dundee end resulted in Luke Ferrara skating onto a miss-placed pass, right in front of the goal and he quickly stuck a shot up into the left top corner on 13 minutes.
Before the game was restarted, Laakkonen headed off the ice and into the Blaze dressing room for treatment on a hamstring injury and a few moments later, Danny Stewart was fearing he had lost another player as Ross Venus blocked a hard slapshot from Craig Gans with his right arm.
However, Venus did play on and his side nearly tied the game right before the end of the first period as John Curran cut out a Justin Maylan pass but squandered his chance in the final minute.
Although, they would have a powerplay to start the second period as Beauregard was involved in a small spat with an opponent and he was charged with slashing with six seconds on the clock.
In the second period, the West Midlands club again started off quickly from the face-off but they continued to let the Stars go unpunished for their poor discipline.
Nevertheless, Coventry did tie the game after their man advantage had concluded.
Dillon Lawrence made it 2-2 as he took a pass from Matt Pohlkamp and from straight in front of the goal, he slotted it down low to the right of Dundee netminder, Alex Leclerc on the 22 minute mark.
The physical side of the sport began to show in the following minutes and after a few fouls had gone unpunished by the referees before the game-tying-goal, Coventry continued to chance their luck.
However, the whistle was blown twice in the following minutes as Broll and Alex Forbes each received two minute penalties for minor infractions and the Blaze would again concede on the powerplay.
The scoring opportunity began with Maylan almost getting one past Phillips before Venus cut out a d-to-d pass across the blueline and broke away down the ice towards Leclerc’s net but Egils Kalns quickly caught up to the Brit and won back possession for Dundee.
The play went straight back into Coventry’s end and after making a few stops from a scramble of shots and bodies in front, Phillips could not stop Maylan from firing a loose rebound in from the right side of the goal at the halfway mark.
Stewart’s men looked to quickly tie the game up through Evan Bloodoff but Lelcerc produced a fine stick save to deny the Canadian.
The Taysiders then looked to be in trouble as Charles Corcoran was moving down the wing with the puck and Gans lost his balance and fell to the ice, but the Canadian defenseman got back to his feet quickly and made a sliding block to turn Corcoran’s shot out of play with his stick.
Although, the West Midland’s outfit were rewarded a few moments later as Justin Hamonic sent a high shot towards Leclerc and just before it reached the Stars shot-stopper, Andrew Johnston knocked it down and under the keeper with his stick, tying the game at 3-3 after 33 minutes.
Surprisingly, Dundee responded immediately and just 17 seconds after the last goal, Cownie netted his second to restore his side’s lead.
There was some good linking play between Brett Stovin and Kalns in the build-up and Stovin was the one to play the puck through to Cownie from the right wing and then from edge of the crease, Cownie sent the puck up and over the arm of Phillips before it landed in the back of the net.
Pacha’s men did not stop scoring there and added another to make it 5-3, 90 seconds after their last.
It came from a great solo goal by Dufour, as he skated from centre ice straight towards the Blaze goal and as he crossed the front of the net, he slid the puck back into the bottom left corner and away from the moving Phillips.
Again, the visitors responded with heavy pressure but once more they were denied by another wonderful save from Leclerc.
With 90 seconds left in the second stanza, Matt Pohlkamp tried to get a shot up and around Leclerc, who was off his line but the Canadian goaltender reached back to snatch the shot out of mid air.
He then followed that save with two big double stops and that gave a big boost to Dundee as they held onto their two-goal cushion until the second break.
In the third period, it was the home side that made a quick start this time and they were circling the Coventry goal, looking for more scoring opportunities to exploit and they did well to create some openings.
After Dufour and Elgin Pearce both attempted to beat Phillips but were denied, Beauregard quickly snapped up the rebound and tucked it into the net for a 6-3 lead after just 59 seconds of play in the third session.
That prompted Stewart to make a substitution as Phillip’s was benched and Jordan Hedley sent out for the final 19 minutes.
From the restart of play, the dangerous hits started to show again as Drydn Dow was boarded by a Coventry player and that sparked a reaction from Beauregard but his actions caught the attention of Broll and both players were willing to stand up for their teammates.
Soon Ferrara and Pearce became involved too but only Broll picked up a penalty from the altercation after he had a few tugs at the jersey of Beauregard and that put him back in the box for interference.
However, he was not happy with the referee’s decision and his backlash and coarse words earned him a game misconducted for abuse of an official, ending his evening in the 43rd minute.
On the powerplay, the Stars were moving the puck around with pace and Colton Kroeker played a quick pass out in front of the net for Marquardt to skate on to and that forced Hedley into his first real save of the night.
Beauregard was next to test the Blaze back-up but Hedley made a strong stop with his right leg and covered up the danger.
Tensions boiled over again in the 46th minute as Kris Inglis and Lawrence dropped the gloves in the corner of the Dundee defensive zone and Inglis got the better of his man and brought Lawrence to the ice and the Stars fans to their feet.
Inglis also picked up a two minute roughing minor to go with his five minute major because of a few checks he made before the gloves came off.
Pacha’s men then pushed themselves further ahead as Cownie sent a cross-ice pass to Kalns and from just inside the blue line, the Latvian smashed the puck with a first time slapshot and watched it fly past Hedley and into the net on 49 minutes.
Now 7-3 up, the Stars settled in for the rest of the match and the game went back and forth for the final ten minutes, the only notable chance was for the Blaze but they were again denied by a formidable Leclerc.
Curran found himself through on a breakaway but he could not slip a shot under the leg pads of the Stars keeper before Chris Pohlkamp followed-up on the rebound with a hard and fast shot that was destined for the twine, until Leclerc quickly reached up and caught the shot with his trapper.
Dundee held onto the four-goal lead to confirm a 7-3 win and extend their unbeaten run to five games but due to other results, they remain in ninth position in the Elite League table.
However, only 10 points separate top from bottom and the Stars have two more chances next weekend to move up, as they visit Manchester Storm on Saturday night and Welcome Belfast Giants on Sunday.
Man of the Match:
Dundee: #10 Kevin Dufour
Coventry: #19 Luke Ferrara
1-0 Dufour (Beauregard, Pearce) 01:07
2-0 Cownie (Beauregard, Dirk) 03:40 PPG
2-1 Ferrara (Forbes, Schiestel) 13:25
2-2 Lawrence (M. Pohlkamp, Eichstadt) 22:00
3-2 Maylan (Kroeker, Dow) 29:52 PPG
3-3 Johnston (Hamonic, Ferrara) 33:26
4-3 Cownie (Stovin, Kalns) 33:43
5-3 Dufour (Pearce, Beauregard) 35:13
6-3 Beauregard (Dirk, Dufour) 40:59
7-3 Kalns (Cownie, Maylan) 49:06