By Kris Smith
The Kitmart Dundee Stars had a big chance to claim their first league win when the Nottingham Panthers came to the DIA on Saturday night.
The Stars were at full strength while the visitors were without spare goaltender, Sam Gospel and the suspended Brett Bulmer.
Dundee had a few good chances in the opening minutes that forced Nottingham goaltender, Kevin Carr to be on his toes.
Although, in the eighth minute, Panthers defenseman, Joseph Hazeldine thought he had opened the scoring.
Hazeldine, skated across the Stars crease forcing netminder, Alex Leclerc to stick a leg out and knock the puck away but the Englishman recovered possession and spun to get his shot on net.
The puck was caught by Leclerc as he fell backwards into the goal, causing the Nottingham skaters to celebrate but after a review of the play by referee, Toby Craig the call on the ice of no goal, stood.
Following the early scare, Dundee dug deep and the line of Elgin Pearce, Kevin Dufour and Anthony Beauregard were doing well to win possession back in the Panthers end.
Despite their efforts being deserving of a goal, Carr kept denying the Stars from multiple angles.
However, the deadlock was soon broken by Nottingham’s Brett Perlini after 11 minutes.
The puck came from behind the Stars goal and popped out in front to the waiting Perlini and he sent it over Leclerc and into the roof of the net from close range.
Even with the home team pushing for an equaliser, they were dealt a bigger blow as Adam Deutsch doubled the lead inside 15 minutes, with a shot that found the top corner from high in the Dundee end.
Following the restart, Panthers’ John Rheault was left unhappy after he felt he was fouled and lost his helmet.
The player returned to the bench and out of frustration and launched his helmet onto the ice, putting his side on the first penalty kill of the game.
Luckily for Rheault, his outburst would not cost his team as they killed off the two-minute minor penalty.
Omar Pacha needed to get his side going as they trailed 2-0 going into the first break.
It looked like they had refocused themselves coming into the second stanza as Dundee dominated the early minutes.
However, as the halfway mark approached, Rheault done all the hard work before allowing Sam Herr to finish off a move and put the Panthers 3-0 up.
After a wasted powerplay by the English team, Tim Wallace’s men then hit penalty trouble of their own as Nottingham’s Jens Jakobs found himself in the box for a face-off violation.
Dundee soon had a two-man advantage as Robert Lachowicz was penalised for holding but Stars again failed to capitalise on the advantage.
As Jakobs was released form the box he and another Panther broke away down the ice with only Leclerc in their way.
However, the Stars keeper made an impressive stop to keep the score at 3-0.
A delay of game penalty following Leclerc’s big save meant that Stars would go back on a five-on-three powerplay.
The Panthers killed again before the last advantage was cancelled out when Dundee defender, Shawn Boutin was called for holding at 38 minutes.
The last 20-minute period was all that remained for Stars to take something out of the game and they got the start they needed as Egils Kalns got Dundee on the board.
The Latvian winger skated down the left wing and delayed his shot before driving the puck over Carr’s shoulder and into the top left corner after 45 minutes.
The Stars goal scorer was later penalised for hooking as their hard work could have been undone and it almost was as Herr drilled a shot off the post.
Dundee managed to kill the penalty but shortly after, Lachowicz made it 4-1.
He drifted to the back post to turn in Oliver Betteridge’s pass on 50 minutes.
Omar Pacha then witnessed his side take a number of penalties in the final minutes as the game was out of reach.
Jagger Dirk was boxed for high-sticking and with a delayed penalty against Drydn Dow, Deutsch netted his second goal of the night.
The Panthers first and only powerplay goal from six opportunities came from a fast and rising shot by Deutsch from just inside the blueline.
The rest of Dundee’s penalties were killed off and they even had some late chances but both goalies stood firm to make sure the game would end 5-1.
It was not the start Dundee wanted but they must now pick themselves up ahead of tomorrow’s big game against Sheffield Steelers.
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