The Kitmart Dundee Stars play host to Belfast Giants in a home double header this weekend and are aiming to snap their four game-losing run.

By Kris Smith

The Stars have slipped to defeats in their last four league matching, losing three by just a single goal and two in a shootout.

However, those two points they gained from the shootout loses have kept them within touching distance of the next four teams above them in the league table.

Ninth-placed Dundee currently have 23 points from 28 games and are just five points off of fifth and could use their games in hand to challenge for a spot in the top four.

Whereas, Belfast are 23 points ahead of the Tayside team in third and challenging the for the league title.

Adam Keefe’s side have won five of the seven games between the two clubs this season and in the last game, the Giants ran out 7-1 winners in Northern Ireland.

On Hogmanay in Belfast, Sebastian Bengtsson scored the only goal as the home side powered past Dundee with goals from Kevin Raine, JJ Piccinich, Tyler Soy (7), David Goodwin (2) and Jeff Baum.

Whilst the Stars have not played since last Sunday’s shootout defeat to Guildford Flames, the Giants recovered from their loss on penalties against Cardiff Devils last Saturday to beat Coventry Blaze 7-1 on Wednesday evening.

Their mid-week victory has taken Belfast to five wins from their last six games but they will be facing a full strength Stars line-up.

With new signing, Quinn O’Brien expected to slot straight into the line-up, Dundee will have a full quota of 14 imports and all six defenders available to play for the first time this season.

Forward, Alexandre Ranger will be the spare import who misses out due to injury.

Stars Head Coach, Omar Pacha discussed how he is excited to see his team with a full line-up for once but explained they will have to be at their best this weekend.

He said: “It is a weird one, it is very rare you play the same team at home twice.

“Belfast are one of the hottest teams in the league right now, so it certainly will be a challenge for us but I am excited to see the team with a full set of imports and six defensemen.

“Belfast are always a challenging team to play against and lets not kid ourselves, we are probably going to have to play our best hockey to win on both nights.

“As long as we play hard and with intensity, that is all I can ask but we know how much of a punch the Giants pack offensively, they just scored seven on Wednesday and they got five more last Friday against Cardiff.

“We have to stay disciplined because they are a team that has hurt us on the powerplay in the past, but apart from one game, I felt like we have been right in every other game with them.”

Stars forward, Toms Rutkis was on the scoresheet twice last weekend and has shared his desire to continue contributing.

He said: “I think we played well for most of that game and stayed in it the whole time.

“It is always fun to contribute on the score sheet and I hope to keep helping the team in whatever way I can going forward.”

Moving his focus to this weekend’s back-to-back with Belfast, Rutkis explained how the Stars are approaching their difficult task.

Toms explained: “We have to take each game one at a time and go into them with a winning mindset.

“Against a good team like the Giants, it will not be easy but we have what it takes in the room and we have shown that this season.

He continued: “We say it every week but every point is very important for us.

“We have to make sure we play the right way and do all the little things that bring us success, but also we need to make the most of the home advantage and get back to winning ways.”

Face-off times for this weekend’s home matches are at 7:30pm on Friday night and 7pm on Saturday.

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Trade-Mart Dundee Stars Team
54 Games
22 Wins
25 Losses
7 OT Losses
51 Points