By Kris Smith
The Stars are setting their sights on securing back-to-back victories to start building their form and consistency as they ice in both cup and league action this weekend, with their first clash with Scottish rivals, Glasgow Clan up first tonight.
Dundee head into their fifth group stage game out of six, where they are yet to record a win in the cup but have been involved in four closely contested games, keeping holders, Belfast Giants close for 40 minutes in two matches and leading twice against Fife Flyers before slipping to defeat.
Last weekend, the Stars played a pair of away games as they went down to England and took a point from Nottingham Panthers, as they forced Jonathan Paredes men to overtime but would lose 2-1.
After Mathieu Lemay had given the home side the lead, Carter Johnson’s powerplay goal put the Taysiders back on level terms but three minutes into the extra period, Victor Bjorkung fired home the winner for Nottingham.
The following night, Marc LeFebvre’s men would fall 3-0 to Sheffield Steelers in Yorkshire after conceding two powerplay goals in the first period but they kept Aaron Fox’s side on their toes until the end, when they bagged a third goal to secure the win.
Tonight, they face the Clan who are also coming off the back of a defeat to Sheffield after losing 3-2 in overtime on home ice to the Steelers on Wednesday evening.
Reece Kelly gave Glasgow an early lead before Marc-Olivier Vallerand’s brace put the visitors 2-1 up and Alex Forbes would net an equaliser to send the game into overtime, where Mikko Juusola would bag Sheffield’s winner.
Stars Head Coach, Marc LeFebvre is hoping to see his side string together some wins this weekend, so that his side can build from it and begin to climb up the table.
He said: “We know the implications of this game, so we have to win this hockey game and not just for cup points but also for the morale.
“We had a pretty good weekend last week for the most part but only came away with one point and that is hockey sometimes, we did not have any puck luck in front of the net but we played much better defensively.
“Sunday in Sheffield we pushed them right until the end, it was 2-0 game up until about 10 minutes left and we made some adjustments throughout the game and Kevin (Carr) gave us a chance to win all weekend, which is all you can ask from your goaltender, we just have to repay him the favour by scoring some goals now.”
He continued: “We have to build off of the steps we took last week and when we have played in the league, we have won points every weekend.
“Obviously the focus is on Saturday and the Cup but our main goal is to pick up points every weekend in the league because if you do that, no matter if it is one, two, three or four points then you are going to be in with a good shout of it at the end of the season for a playoff spot.”
Discussing his side’s first matchup against the Clan, LeFebvre said: “We are going out there to win a hockey game, it does not matter who we are playing but they have also had their struggles lately.
“However, they have a lot of explosive guys up front who can hurt you if you give them too much time and space up front, so I think it will be a good series all the way throughout the season.”
Stars forward, Carter Johnson also shared how the players are feeling heading into their first rivalry game against Glasgow, he commented: “Everyone’s feeling good and sharp, we are ready to go this weekend.
“There is a lot of excitement and positivity going into the weekend, so it is a good feeling overall.
“Playing rivalry games against teams in Scotland there is always that sense of pride that comes from coming out on top, especially with this being a cup game we want to put ourselves in a good position going forward.
“So, we will be giving it everything that we have got and treating it as a playoff match.”
The Canadian also explained what the keys to coming away with a victory will be, adding: “I think sticking to what we do best by being hard in the defensive zone and creative in the offensive zone will be important for us moving forward into this game.
“We know what it takes and we have been putting some good efforts together lately, overall we have been learning a lot as a group of what it takes and what needs to be done come Saturday.
“We definitely want to make our way into the win column and there is a lot of urgency but also a lot of confidence in what we have here.
“So, that will all come just by sticking to the process day in and day out, the results will follow from the hard work that we have been putting in lately.”
Face-off for tonight’s game in Glasgow is at 7pm.
All images: Al Goold.