By Kris Smith
The Stars start their weekend by welcoming the Panthers to Dundee Ice Arena and have already met the English side twice this season, both times south of the border.
In their first encounter, Nottingham prevailed 2-1 after goals from Oliver Betteridge and Robbie Baillargeon, while Philippe Sanche netted for Dundee.
Then when the Taysiders returned to the Motorpoint Arena, they went back and forth with Tim Wallace’s men all night in a 4-3 thriller before eventually missing out on an extra point, after conceding in overtime.
Dundee were put ahead by Gabriel Desjardins and Charlie Combs, before Sebastian Bengtsson’s goal sent the game into overtime, but strikes from Mathieu Tousignant, Christophe Boivin (2) and Betteridge sealed the win for the Panthers.
The Nottinghamshire club have not won a league match since they beat the Stars in overtime, back in early-November and in their most recent match versus Fife Flyers, they were defeated 4-2 on home ice.
Last weekend, Omar Pacha’s side were boosted by the return of a few players to their line-up and are set to gain another forward back this weekend, as Spencer Dorowicz is currently considered fit to play.
However, after sustaining an upper body injury in last Sunday’s win in Belfast, center Dillon Lawrence will be a game-time decision for the Stars boss.
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s home match against Nottingham, Stars Head Coach, Omar Pacha said: “Things are looking good.
“It looks like we will have most of our guys back, so that is a positive.
“Last time, it was weird, we played two pretty good games in Nottingham, for the most part, and we came out of there with one point out of four – and both times I thought we deserved better.
“We have to play well defensively against them, as they are a team that can generate offence from the back, with their good skating defensemen.
“So, it is going to be down to awareness of their offensive threats and they have solid goaltending too, so it will be a tough matchup.”
Then turning his attention to Sunday’s road game, Pacha added: “It is going to be a tough game.
“Sheffield away is always difficult but for us, we just have to focus on playing well and building off our last road game, which was a win against Belfast Giants.
“We played really well against them in the first game and were extremely unlucky not to get anything but if we play the same game, then I am confident that we will get something out of it on Sunday.”
Canadian defenseman. Kyle Haas then shared how excited he is to get back out in front of the Stars fans tonight.
He said: “I am very excited to get back out there in front of the fans on Saturday!
“They have shown nothing but love and support for the Stars and myself personally through the ups and downs this season, even with my suspension they were there backing me up.
“Even when the team was losing, they were being positive and cheering on us.
“They deserve nothing but our 110 per cent effort and getting a W on Saturday against Nottingham will definitely be the cherry on top.”
The blueliner then explained how important home ice advantage is and how the team want to use the momentum of last week’s big wins.
Haas added: “We lost to Nottingham in two pretty close games in their arena, both relatively at the start of the season.
“We have had a lot of injury trouble and are starting to get a full team back now.
“We are also starting to click as a group and have the ball rolling from last weekend.
“So, we will use that momentum and really use the home ice advantage with the best fans in league to boost our energy and win back two points from the Panthers.”
Kyle continued: “Obviously, we are really motivated to keep the ball rolling after last weekend because we were in a pretty deep hole and we had to work really hard as a team and start clicking together to really start digging ourselves out.
“It started to show last weekend, so it is very important to build confidence in ourselves and being consistent as a group to keep developing as a team and progress upwards through the standings.”
Face-off time for this Saturday’s match is at 7pm.