TRADE-MART DUNDEE STARS 3 BELFAST GIANTS 2 SO
The Trade-Mart Dundee Stars ended their 2023 with a bang as they battled back from 2-0 down to beat Belfast Giants on penalty shots and get back to winning ways.
By Kris Smith
The Stars made on change to their line-up following the defeat in Belfast with Jake Elmer coming back in and Tommy Parrottino sitting out along with injured defenseman, Kris Inglis.
The start of the match saw Dundee be the first to come close to opening the scoring as Ryan Valentini forced Jackson Whistle into a sprawling save inside two minutes but after that, goaltender, Kevin Carr and the Stars defence were kept busy by the Giants.
Belfast were unfortunate not to be in the lead as they twice had shots cleared away from an open goal by last ditch defending from the home side but they would eventually find a way through on 10 minutes, as Bobby MacIntrye tipped Cameron Pound’s shot down and past Carr.
The goal would be reviewed by referees for a possible high-stick on the tip from Nazarian but the goal would stand to put the visitors in the lead.
The Starswere pushing hard for a leveller and were only being denied by some great goaltending from Whistle as he snatched multiple efforts out of the air and even reached back behind himself to stop Chris McKay’s effort from trickling across the line.
Dundee went into the first break still 1-0 behind but were left aggrieved after some potential fouls by Belfast went unpunished from the referees, however in the second period the penalties soon began to pile up.
First to head to the sin bin was Dundee blueliner, McKay as he recieved a two-minute minor for roughing after a scuffle behind the play with Belfast’s Kohei Sato.
Moments later, Sato would then shoot down the Giant’s powerplay as he was boxed for goaltender interference after colliding with Carr and the put both teams down to four skaters each, but the extra space allowed for Ara Nazarian to net a second for the visitors as he jammed home a loose rebound in the crease.
Marc LeFebvre’s men then missed their chances on two powerplays as they continued to be stonewalled by Whistle but neither team could stay out of the box as Sato and Dundee’s Carter Johnson were both punished for roughing during a stoppage in play.
The Tayside team then had to kill off a five-minute powerplay in the final minutes of the second period as McKay was given a five-minute major and game misconduct for cross-checking, ending his night after 37 minutes.
The Stars successfully saw out the first half of the long penalty but still had over two-minutes to kill at the start of the third period and continued to deny the Giants powerplay unit of any chances.
Sato then returned to the box for a third time in the 49th minute for hooking and that allowed Dundee to finally cash in on the powerplay as Brent Beaudoin switched a pass across to Spencer Naas and he blasted a first-time effort past Whistle.
Adam Keefe then called a timeout straight after the goal to settle his side down but both teams would again get a chance on the powerplay but failed to convert and it would come down to the final two minutes when LeFebvre used his own timeout to draw up a plan and pull Carr for the extra attacker.
With just 48 seconds left on the clock, Naas brought Dundee level as he smacked home the rebound from Drydn Dow’s saved effort and that sent a packed-out Dundee Ice Arena into elation.
That then forced the game into overtime where both sides would get a chance to end it on a breakaway as Dow would be denied at one end and then MacIntyre would take possession the other way but be robbed by Carr.
No winner was found in extra time and a shootout was required, where Johnson stepped out first for Dundee and pulled a neat backhand move off to beat Whistle and put the pressure on the Giants.
Ben Lake would fail to get a shot away against Carr before Naas then doubled the Stars advantage with a shot through Whistle’s five-hole.
Quinn Preston would then send Belfast’s second shot wide and Valentini then scored via the underside of the crossbar to put the game on Matt McLeod’s stick and he failed to get the puck past Carr, sending the bumper crowd into eruption.
The Stars end 2023 on a massive high as they keep moving up the table and take their big momentum into the first game of 2024, as they will welcome Glasgow Clan on Wednesday, January 3.
Man of the Match
Dundee: #8 Spencer Naas
Belfast: #22 Ara Nazarian
0-1 Bobby MacIntyre (Cameron Pound, Ara Nazarian) 09:58
0-2 Ara Nazarian (Unassisted) 29:08
1-2 Spencer Naas (Brent Beaudoin, Drydn Dow) 49:41 PPG
2-2 Spencer Naas (Carter Johnson, Drydn Dow) 59:12 EA
3-2 Carter Johnson (Unassisted) 65:00 PS
Dundee: Carter Johnson – Goal
Belfast: Ben Lake – Saved
Dundee: Spencer Naas – Goal
Belfast: Quinn Preston – Miss
Dundee: Ryan Valentini – Goal
Belfast: Matt McLeod – Saved
All images: Derek Black.