By Kris Smith
The Stars make their competitive debut at the DIA tonight as the regular season gets up and running this weekend, although tonight’s match is a Challenge Cup contest, with Marc LeFebvre’s men looking to draw level on points with Belfast in Group A.
Last night saw the Giants go top of the group as they claimed a 4-1 win over Dundee in Northern Ireland, although it had not been an easy night for Adam Keefe’s side as they were still in a deadlock after the first period.
However, just 66 seconds into the second session, Mark Cooper fired the Giants ahead by batting in a mid-air rebound after Stars keeper, Kevin Carr had made the initial save.
The home side then doubled their lead on the powerplay in the 34th minute as a tic-tac-toe passing move was finished off by Ara Nazarian, but Dundee would hit back through Johnny Walker just before the break to make it a one-goal game again.
After Stars captain, Drydn Dow drove towards goal, he lifted a backhanded shot up towards the top corner of Tyler Beskorowany’s goal but the Belfast netminder would keep it out with his head, before being unable to stop Walker from blasting in the rebound.
In the third period, the Giants restored their two-goal lead on 46 minutes as Ciaran Long fired one in at Carr’s near post and then as Dundee pushed their way back into the game, Belfast’s Quinn Preston fired into an empty net in the final minute, to seal the 4-1 victory for the reigning champions.
The Tayside team had to ice without forward, Jake Elmer due to illness but he will return to the line-up this evening, whilst Ryan Valentini misses out through injury.
Meanwhile, Keefe had nine players sitting out as they dealt with injuries, as well as having a number of spare players and missing from last night’s line-up was; Andrew Dickson, Mark Garside, Kell Beattie, Josh Roach, Kohei Sato, Mack Stewart, Mason Alderson and Elijiah Barriga.
Reflecting on last night’s match, Stars Head Coach, LeFebvre said: “It was a good challenge for us, they set the gold standard for the league and that is where we want to get to.
“It was a good showing for us to see where we need to be and where we need to get to.
“Belfast are a great club and a great team, they showed that tonight and we have a lot to work on, so we look forward to playing them again tomorrow.”
Marc continued: “We just kept working, kept getting at them and played a very physical game.
“We went toe-to-toe a lot but they took control in the first 10 minutes of the second period and that may have been the difference, you can tell that they have played a lot of competitive games already.”
Face-off for tonight’s home game is at 7pm. Buy your tickets HERE!
All images: William Cherry/Presseye.