By Kris Smith
The Stars claimed a crucial 5-1 win away to Nottingham Panthers on Wednesday night and that has generated a lot of momentum behind their playoff push.
Dundee’s Johan Eriksson opened the scoring on four minutes before Ben Sokay doubled the lead inside 13 minutes.
The Panthers hit back with a powerplay goal in the final minute of the first period but the Stars responded with a third goal just four minutes into the second session, as Hugo Reinhardt converted on the breakaway.
Sokay then extended their lead to 4-1 by tucking in his own rebound in the 40th minute and in the third period, Philippe Sanche netted his sixth goal in the last four games to seal the victory for the Tayside team.
Now they welcome Guildford to the DIA tonight before facing them down in Surrey on Sunday, however the Flames are locked in a title fight with Belfast Giants and Sheffield Steelers, with Paul Dixon’s men needing to win every game, to give themselves the best possible chance at being champions.
So far in four meetings this season, the Flames have won all four contests have had to fight off a surge from the Stars in almost all of them, although Dundee have been outscored 20-7 in those matches.
Only defenseman, Chris Lidjsman and forward, Romans Semjonovs were absent for the last match but there could be some more team news ahead of tonight’s game as a few players battle knocks.
Looking ahead to their biggest weekend of the season, Stars Head Coach, Jeff Mason said: “We have certainly been playing good hockey over the last few weeks and it has taken us a few games of playing well to start picking up some points and now we can feel that positive momentum.
“We have to continue to do things that make us a difficult team to play against and make sure we are focusing on our details because Guildford are a good team, who are fighting for a league title and I expect them to be extremely good this weekend and it will take a full 60-minute effort from everyone in the line-up to give us a chance to win.
“That said, they are a team we have played well against a number of times this year and I felt like we could have come away with points.
“So, that is the mentality and mindset going into this weekend, we need to play our game, be aware of what they are doing and hopefully continuing to build our positive momentum.”
The American coach also took a lot positives from Wednesday night’s road win but insisted his players must be even more defensively sound against the Flames high-scoring offence.
Mason added: “We did a number of good things on Wednesday night but I did feel we got a bit away from our defensive structure in the second period and that is something we cannot let happen this weekend, because Guildford are a team that if you do that then they will be sure to punish you on the scoreboard.
“There were certainly a lot of positives to take from Wednesday and we can build on those, correct a few mistakes or areas that I though slipped away from us a bit and hopefully give a complete performance tonight.”
Face-off for tonight’s home game is at 7pm and Sunday’s game in Guildford begins at 6pm.
All images: Derek Black.