By Kris Smith
Stars are looking to bounce back from a 4-3 overtime loss in Manchester and add to the woes of the Panthers who have yet to win this weekend.
Nottingham came into the weekend in first place in the Elite League standings despite a 6-1 loss away to Belfast Giants after beating their biggest rivals, Sheffield Steelers 5-2 last weekend.
They kicked-off their Scottish triple header with a 6-3 loss to Glasgow Clan on Friday night before losing again in Kirkcaldy last night, where they were beaten 7-5 by Fife Flyers.
Rich Chernomaz’s side have dropped to third in table but remain a point behind leaders Fife. Stars still sit in ninth on eight points, after picking up a single point in Manchester last night.
Coming into the weekend, Alex Guptill leads the Panthers in scoring with 17 points in 14 games, while Mark Hurtubise has 16 in 15 games and Luke Pither has 15 from 15. Panther’s starting goaltender, Michael Garnett has started 12 games and recorded a 2.74 goals against average and a save percentage of .916.
Last night Lukas Lundvald and Drydn Dow both extended their point scoring streaks to seven and four games.
These two sides have already met four times in 2018 and it was the English club that claimed three out of the four ties. Stars lost in the East Midlands 3-0 before being beaten 3-1 in Tayside. However, Dundee defeated Panthers 4-3 on the road before narrowly losing 4-3 at home again.
Jordan Cownie scored two goals against Nottingham last year, while, Brian Hart and Lundvald notched two assists. This season’s captain, Johan Andersson picked up a single helper against Panthers.
Alexandre Bolduc just joined the Panthers on Monday and has picked up two assists over his first two games.
Matt Bissonnette is the only expected absentee for Dundee tonight. Nottingham’s Jon Rheault missed both games last weekend and is yet to feature this weekend and Joseph Hazeldine was also missing from the line-up this weekend. Tyler VanKleef did not ice on Friday but replaced Tyler Biggs in last night’s roster.
On loan Nottingham Panther, Jordan Kelsall said the loan move is “Just what I need”.
He said: “The loan is providing me with lots of ice time, and on Tuesday I played a lot of minutes again.
“It is just what I need and I feel like I will improve massively from it.”
Looking ahead to playing his parent club, Jordan added: “I am very excited, I have been looking forward to it for a while and I am sure it will be a very close game.
“They have been doing well and so have we so it will be a good test for us.”
Stars are in desperate need of a win and to get one off Nottingham, Kelsall said they would need to compete for “60 minutes”
He said: “I think if we stick to our game plan and the system that we use we will have the opportunity to win the game.
“We have to play for the whole 60 minutes to get a result against a strong team like Nottingham, but everyone believes we can do it and there is no reason why we cannot.”
Dundee-born Craig Garrigan is another youth player in the side who is getting a lot of ice time and gaining more experience with every game. Reflecting on his increased ice time, Craig said: “It is great to get some ice time as a young Brit.
“Just now I am taking one shift at a time and giving it everything I have got.
It is helping me adapt to a faster and more physical game and it also helps me gain confidence out there.”
Discussing the team’s chances of picking up a win tonight, he added: “I feel that we are always in a close game against any team we have played so far this season.
“We need to be more selfish at times and stop passing up chances to shoot, so we get more goal scoring opportunities and also we need to stay on top of our game for the 60 minutes.
“We need to find a way to close games out when we are up in the game, so we can get the two points.”
Tonight’s game faces-off at 5pm and tickets are still available online and from the DIA box office.