By Kris Smith
Stars host Nottingham Panthers tonight as they aim to rediscover their good form.
Only 12 points separate the third place Nottingham Panthers and seventh place Kitmart Dundee Stars but Stars have two games in hand going into the Christmas period.
Yesterday evening seen Omar Pacha’s Stars sunk in Cardiff by the Devils. The best form team in the UK went 2-0 down in the first Stanza after Joey Haddad and Jake Morrissette each found the net.
A quick goal from Matt Pope in the second made it 3-0 before Charles Corcoran put Dundee on the board. François Bouchard’s third period marker made it 3-2 before Joey Martin’s empty net goal, nine seconds from time, sealed the points for Andrew Lord’s Devils.
Last night also seen Panthers play host to bottom of the league, Milton Keynes Lightning. Cole Shudra gave Milton Keynes the lead in Nottingham but Perlini tied the game up before the end of the first period.
Mark Hurtubise gave Panthers the lead in the middle stanza before goals in the final third from Robert Farmer (2) Luke Pither and Dylan Richard lifted Nottingham to a 6-2 victory. Georgs Golovkovs gave Lightning a second goal in the third period.
Who was missing – Connor Cox and Lukas Lundvald were both unavailable through injury last night and remain doubtful to feature against Nottingham. The Panthers did not ice Joseph Hazeldine, Jon Rheault, Sam Gospel and Kevin Henderson in last night’s win over the Lightning.
Dundee have faced Nottingham twice this year already and both matches required overtime to find a victor. A tightly contested first tie in Dundee went the way of the Nottinghamshire club. An extra time winner from Alexandre Bolduc claimed the second point for Panthers after Lukas Lundvald’s equaliser had cancelled out Brett Perlini’s goal.
However, it was Stars who won the extra point in Nottingham. Justin Kovacs gave the home side the lead before Fabrizio Ricci tied things up. Matt Marquardt moved Dundee ahead before Alex Guptill levelled the score for Rich Chernomaz’s men but a quick response from Dundee’s François Bouchard restored their lead.
Kovacs bagged a brace in the final few minutes to tie the game at 3-3 before Nottingham ran into penalty troubles in overtime. Guillaume Lepine was thrown out for spearing and given a five plus game penalty. Nine seconds into the resulting powerplay, Marquardt smashed home the winner for Stars.
Stars centreman, Jordan Cownie says he and his teammates have confidence going into another game against a top three side.
He said: “I think everyone is feeling good going into the weekend and we had a good weekend on the road last week with two wins out of three.
“To get a big win in Nottingham on Friday night was a good result for us too, so I think spirits are definitely high going into the weekend.
“I think we feel confident right now, regardless of who we are playing.
“I mean we are going into every game with the mindset that we are going to win hockey games and long may that continue.
“We just have to keep playing the same way, teams seem to struggle when they come to play us.
“So if we keep playing the same way, I am sure we will be fine.”
After another close defeat last night, Dundee will be looking for another bounce back performance and Cownie added: “I think the margin between winning and losing is so fine.
“To lose to Sheffield the way we did was quite tough to take and obviously the Milton Keynes game, that could have went either way also.
“So, to bounce back just kind of shows the character we have and obviously it is looking very positive moving onto the second half of the year.”
Reflecting on the team’s good run and some of his own recognition, the Scot said: “It is always the team that comes first but to get a couple individual awards, that was pretty special too.
“I would not be able to do that without my teammates and being on a winning team for the past couple of months has obviously helped that too.”
Tonight’s game at the DIA will face-off at 5pm.