By Kris Smith
On Saturday, the Kitmart Dundee Stars travel to Kirkcaldy to face their arch rivals for the final time in this Elite League season, with continuing their domination over Fife on their minds.
Stars will be looking to add to their impressive run against the Fife Flyers this year, as they have won six of the seven meetings so far. Last Sunday they made it four home wins out of four, with a 4-1 victory. Brett Bulmer had given Fife the lead but Drydn Dow quickly put Dundee back on level terms.
Oliver Paczkowski netted his first goal in a Stars jersey to give the Taysiders the lead and it would prove to be the game-winning-goal. Jordan Cownie and Brian Hart increased the deficit to secure a vital pair of points for the playoff push.
A few Stars forwards have put together small point streaks. Over the last three games, Matt Marquardt has scored five points and Brian Hart three. In the last two matches, Charles Corcoran has assisted on two goals.
Dundee’s injury troubles could potentially worsen this weekend as Connor Cox is being evaluated for an upper body injury but it is unknown if he will have to miss this Saturday’s game. Mike Sullivan, François Bouchard and Petr Chaloupka are all still ruled out for this weekend.
Meanwhile, Todd Dutiaume’s side will still be without the suspended Evan Stoflet and potentially the five other players that missed their last fixture. Scott Aarssen, Chris Wands, Calum Robertson, Craig Douglas and Paul Crowder all did not ice against the Stars last Sunday.
Following Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Manchester Storm, Dundee have dropped down to ninth place but a win on Saturday would lift them above Fife and in to seventh position, with the right results.
Stars player-coach, Omar Pacha has been pleased with his team’s domination of their biggest rivals this year.
He said: “It has been a good record against them.
“I think we played some of our better hockey this season against that club, I think we match-up well.
“Our 6-1 record is good and when you have an edge like that on a team you want to keep it going.”
The Canadian also believes that these big games give an extra boost to his players.
Omar added: “I think so, every time we play them it is a big crowd and the guys seem to have a lot of energy and they can feel the rivalry between the two clubs.
“They kind of step-up the intensity during the game and there is no bigger match than Saturday, even regarding the standings as they are a team that we can actually catch.
“Which is a great accomplishment for us, considering that at the start of the season they were about 14 or 15 points ahead of us.”
After the 3-2 defeat in Manchester, Pacha put the loss down to missed chances.
He said: “It is tough, I thought we played a good hockey game but we just missed too many chances.
“We are a team that has struggled throughout the season with being hungry around the net and unfortunately on Wednesday, we had a lot of good chances we were just not able to finish.
“I like our game, I just hope we can find a consistent finishing touch and I need guys to step up.
“Our offence can’t always come from one line, we need other guys to dig deep and step up for us.”
When asked what it will take to continue their domination, Pacha replied: “Scoring and playing well defensively.
“Last time we were there I thought we were okay but it is a tough place to play and I think they are going to come hungrier and ready to play.
“We just have to play our game, limit out mistakes and try to use our speed and tenacity to our advantage.
“We need to try and be a bit more hungrier around the net and the game we played at home last Sunday, I thought we were good but I still think there was parts we could be better at.
“We need a big game, not only to get a win but I would like to see us play a complete 60 minute game.”
Face-off on Saturday is at 7:15pm. With the away section F now sold out at FIA, Stars fans are advised to purchase tickets in the adjacent section E. Tickets can be purchased online HERE.