By Kris Smith
The Stars come into the opening fixture of the Challenge Cup off the back of a successful preseason training camp and will be looking to make a strong start to life in Group A.
This is the first time both sides will have met since, January 2, 2020 and the two much-changed teams will be keen to get their first win as soon as possible.
Connor Sills, Philippe Sanche and Dillon Lawrence were both quick to impress the Dundee fanbase last weekend, as they gave the Taysiders a swift 3-0 lead in Friday’s preseason game against Fife Flyers.
Whereas, the Giants have not played any preseason friendlies and there first real test will be on Saturday night at the Dundee Ice Arena.
Adam Keefe has been able to secure the return of his former standout netminder, Tyler Beskorowany and has added NHL experience in Canadian defenseman, Griffin Reinhart.
Meanwhile, the Northern Irish club have plenty of proven attacking threats in Ciaran Long, Darcy Murphy and also Ben Lake, who netted on his last visit to the DIA.
Dundee are likely to be missing Craig Moore from the backend for this weekend’s matches.
Looking ahead to his side’s first cup match, Stars Head Coach, Omar Pacha said: “We are expecting to see the hard-working team that I am hoping to see every week.
“We are trying to get better every day and I am confident that an extra week of practice was a big help, but we do not really know as we have not seen Belfast yet this year.
“I am excited to see more of our team, as Gabby (Gabriel Desjardins) is here now, and we just have to move forward to the weekend and start our Challenge Cup campaign positively.”
Looking back on the great turnout from the Stars fans last week, Pacha added: “The home support last week was phenomenal and to have a sell-out after 18 months was a great feeling and I am really happy for everyone involved at the club.
“The fans were great, they were loud and proud and it made it hard for Fife to play and for us, I felt we had a great jump at the start because the guys were all excited to play for 2000 people.
“So, hopefully we can do the same on Saturday night and get another great turnout and play the way we can and get a result.”
Canadian forward, Philippe Sanche, says he and his teammates are ready for this weekend and want to turn their home ice into a fortress this season.
He said: “We are feeling good, we want to make it hard for other teams when they come to the DIA, so we will be ready to play hard on Saturday and give a good performance for our fans!”
Looking back on his good start last week, where he bagged the second goal in a 4-1 preseason win over Fife, Sanche added: “It was great!
“Not only to play my first game in 18 months or even more, but to play in front of our fans was really fun and then to get the win too, was just great!
“I was pleased to get on the scoresheet and especially since my roommate (Connor Sills) gave me that pass.
“It is always fun to get on the scoresheet, even in preseason, so hopefully I can keep that going for these important games coming up.”
Saturday night’s match in Dundee faces-off at 7pm. Buy your tickets NOW!
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