The Trade-Mart Dundee Stars face Coventry Blaze in back-to-back games this weekend, where points are a must if they are to stay in contention for a playoff spot and they will also be hoping to secure a second consecutive win over the English club this season.

By Kris Smith

The Stars have just seven games left to make up an eight-point difference but have not been able to record a win or take more than one point from their last nine games, but they have been coming as close as possible.

Dundee’s last two matches both ended in 2-1 defeats, where they probably deserved at least a point for their efforts but late goals proved costly as they were edged out.

Whereas, the Blaze have won five of their six games in March and are unbeaten in their last five games, outscoring their five different opponents 20-14.

Danny Stewart’s men also won their first three contests against the Stars this season but were beaten in the latest clash as the Tayside team took a 4-3 win after penalty shots.

Elijiah Barriga had put Dundee ahead, before Romans Semjonovs doubled their lead but Garrett Johnston and Nathan Ripley brought Coventry back onto level terms.

In the third period, Barriga then got the Stars back in front before Alexander Kuqali equalised for the Blaze in the final minutes, but Philippe Sanche would score the winning penalty shot to win the extra point for Dundee.

The first three games between the two sides ended in 7-2, 5-1 and 4-0 wins for the West Midlands club, although the Stars can level up this season’s series, if they can take both games this weekend but since they last met, Coventry have drafted in two new signings.

31-year-old, Hungarian goaltender, Miklos Rajna has came in and won all four games he has played for the Blaze since arriving on loan from UTE in the Erste Liga and forward, Tyler Kirkup joined from ECHL outfit, Reading Royals and has scored six points (3G, 3A) through his first five games.

The Stars will still be missing Swedish winger, Romans Semjonovs, whilst two-way forwards, Ben Brown and Jonathan McBean will be icing with their second clubs but Johan Eriksson will return to action.



Speaking before this weekend’s games, Stars Head Coach, Jeff Mason said: “They are a team that is in really good form right now, they are playing some good hockey and coming off a stretch of wins.

“So, it is really important for us to make a good start in both matches, we have not had a lot of success against Coventry this year and as a team, we have started those games quite poorly and have been chasing from early on.

“Therefore, it is important for us to focus on getting off to a good start, playing solid defensively and building off our defensive performances in the last two games, where I think we played extremely well defensively.

“Then, it is about trying to find a way to get out in front and play from the front, which is not something we have done a lot against them and if we can do that then I believe we have a good chance to come out with some points.”

After being narrowly beaten in two low scoring matches, the American coach wants to see his side continue their good defensive work this weekend, adding: “It is about focusing on the things we have done well over the last number of games and making sure we continue to do those.

“I thought on Wednesday night in Sheffield, some of our details were quite good, especially defensively, although we did not generate enough quality scoring chances but we certainly generated enough to have more than one goal.”

Face-off time for Saturday’s game in Coventry is at 7pm and Sunday’s game in Dundee will begin at 5pm.



All images: Scott Wiggins.

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