The Trade-Mart Dundee Stars are out to seal their place at the top of their Challenge Cup Group this weekend as they face the current champions, Belfast Giants in back-to-back games.

By Kris Smith

The Stars start their weekend off in Belfast on Saturday night and are in need of a bounce back performance after losing 7-1 to Sheffield Steelers at home, last Sunday.

In what had been a 0-0 game after 20 minutes and 2-1 to Sheffield at the end of the second period, the English club accelerated into a massive lead in the final session.

Dundee’s form currently reads three wins and two losses through their first five competitive games, while Belfast won both of their opening Challenge Cup fixtures, after they completed the first phase of their Champions League Group Stage games.

These two teams met in the same fashion four weeks ago, as they faced in consecutive games during both club’s preseason training camps, but now the Stars have the chance to claim the top spot, if they can beat Adam Keefe’s side twice in two days.

Previously, the Giants were 9-4 victors in Belfast, before they had a hard-fought 5-3 win in Dundee the following night.

On the scoresheet for the Stars that weekend was; Romans Semjonovs (2), Hugo Reinhardt and Philippe Sanche, Drydn Dow and Carter Folk.

 

Stars forward, Carter Folk celebrates scoring against the Giants at home, during the preseason. (Picture: Derek Black).

 

While the Giants offence had production from; Ben Lake (2), David Gilbert, Jeff Baum, Tyler Soy, Scott Conway, Gabe Bast (2), David Goodwin, Ciaran Long, Darik Angeli, Sean Norris, Mark Cooper and Colby McAuley.

Speaking ahead of this weekend’s decisive games in the Challenge Cup, Stars Head Coach, Jeff Mason said: “We are approaching this as a massive opportunity for us to finish top of our group.

“We currently sit on top of the group, so it is a huge opportunity for us and I fully expect us to go in on Saturday night and compete hard and hopefully come out with the two points.

“For us, it is about executing our gameplan and our systems, and playing to our identity.

“I believe when we are playing with structure then we are very good at limiting teams through the neutral zone.

“If we can continue to do that and then find a way to get a bit more traffic to the net and create a few more second and third opportunities, then we will be able to generate a little bit more offence and hopefully that will lead to success.”

Stars forward, Philippe Sanche scored in the SSE Arena during the preseason visit and insists he and his teammates will give it their all this weekend.

He said: “We are giving it everything to get ready for Belfast this week, we have a great chance to close out Challenge Cup Group Stage at the top of the table.

“So, it is a big challenge for us but also a great chance to secure the first big success of the season so far, and we are hungry for that.”

The Canadian was also part of the Stars team that made a good run into the Challenge Cup Quarter-Finals last season, but unluckily lost out to Cardiff Devils at the last eight stage.

 

Stars forward, Philippe Sanche in action against Belfast, back in August. (Picture: Derek Black).

 

Philippe added: “I felt we got pretty unlucky last year with the Quarter-Finals and I wish we had gone a bit further, but Jeff won it last year, so he knows all about it and what it takes.

“It is a great chance to finish on top of the table and get ready for those Quarter-Finals and hopefully we get a better result than last year.”

Sanche also discussed what it will take to get the results the Stars want this weekend, commenting: “We will have to play a strong 60 minutes, if it is not more.

“So, we need to stay structured and focused on our gameplan, we have been doing this so far this season and have had some success, so we know we just have to tidy up our defensive zone and our mental game, and then we will get a chance to win.”

Face-off times for tonight’s match in Belfast is at 7pm.

 

Banner image: William Cherry/Presseye.

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Trade-Mart Dundee Stars Team
20 Games
6 Wins
12 Losses
2 OT Losses
14 Points