By Kris Smith
Tonight, the Stars welcome the Panthers for the second time this season and are looking for their second win over Jonathan Paredes side, after emerging victorious on their last trip to Nottingham, taking two points after a 4-3 win on penalties.
Dundee also claimed a point in a 2-1 overtime defeat in November but were beaten 7-2 when the Panthers last came to Tayside and the English club recently snapped an eight-game losing skid with a 4-3-win victory in Fife against the Flyers.
Leading the way in scoring for Nottingham against the Stars is Mathieu Lemay with four goals and one assist, whilst Brendan Harms has three points, including the shootout winner against the Panthers.
However, last weekend they suffered a pair of defeats in Belfast as they went down 2-1 and 4-2 to the Giants, and lost again to Adam Keefe’s men 7-2 in Nottingham, last night.
Meanwhile, the Stars were in Cardiff and fell to a 7-4 defeat after going back and forth with the Welsh club all night, with the Devils taking a 3-0 lead in the first period through goals from Josh Batch, Joey Martin and Justin Crandall.
However, Anthony Rinaldi was set up for a tap in by James Phelan with 20 seconds left in the opening period and Phelan then tipped Chris McKay’s shot past Ben Bowns, just 10 seconds into the second session, to make it 3-2.
Tyler Busch and Jamie Arniel then both scored one minute apart to extend the home side’s lead to 5-2 before 14 seconds later, Carter Johnson’s shot from a narrow angle caught Bowns off-guard at his near post.
In the third period, Bode Wilde made it a 6-3 game before Johnson cut it back again with a spectacular finish on the near post and with five minutes left, all was to play for but Crandall’s empty net goal in the final two minutes sealed the 7-4 result for the Devils.
The Stars will be without defenseman, Sean Allen tonight as he was given a two-match suspension for a hit to the head during last night’s game in Cardiff.
Speaking after the defeat to the Devils, Stars Head Coach, Marc LeFebvre said: “It was a bit frustrating at times.
“We did not play too badly but the effort was there and we needed a little bit of urgency, obviously we scored four goals but if you score four goals in a game then you should win it.
“Their first and third goals are just shots from the point that found their way into the back of the net but that is the importance of getting pucks on net.
“Then, on the fourth and fifth goals our puck management was terrible, so if we clean that up then I thought we could have won that game but if we do not manage the puck then you see what happens and it is in the back of our net.
“We know it is a tough building to come into but you cannot go 3-0 down and expect to come back.”
Then discussing tonight’s fixture against Nottingham, LeFebvre continued: “Every team in this league is good and they have a deep team too.
“They are trying to get back up in the standings and climb up into those playoff spots, so we just have to weather it and we cannot take anyone lightly, we are in no position to do so.
“We know they are chasing points and playoff aspirations just like we are, so we have to be ready for them.”
Stars goaltender, Kevin Carr also stressed the importance of being ready from the get-go against Nottingham but also praised the fans for the energetic boost they provide to the team.
He said: “It does not matter who is coming into our building we just have to focus on being ready and prepared to play our best.
“The fans have been very crucial.
“Spencer (Naas) said it very well in one of his post-game interviews recently, that the fans give us such a boost of energy and we need them to be loud.
“Sometimes it can be very loud when we are up and winning, which is great but if we get a little more energy throughout the whole game, then it would be amazing and they are always so good to us so we cannot ask them for much more, but we definitely get a lot of energy from them.”
Finally, Kevin added: “Tonight we just have to play our game and focus on ourselves.
“As I said, it does not matter who we play because if we play our game and we keep it simple, do not try to take too many risks defensively then we are capable of anything.”
Face-off time for tonight’s home game against Nottingham is at 5pm.
All images: Derek Black.