By Kris Smith
The Kitmart Dundee Stars are planning to keep their good form going and steal another two points in Cardiff when they face the defending champions again.
Stars are now the best form ice hockey team in the UK with 17 points out of 20 in their last 10 games and twice they bounced back from defeats. After a six-game winning streak was ended by Sheffield Steelers, Omar Pacha’s players rallied together and begun their England triple header with a 4-3 overtime victory against Nottingham Panthers.
A 3-0 slip up in Milton Keynes allowed the Lightning their first ever Elite League shutout but again Dundee responded. A 5-2 win over Coventry Blaze on Sunday made the trip a success for the Tayside team.
Last weekend seen Andrew Lord’s Devils exit the Challenge Cup after a 6-4 defeat at the hands of Glasgow Clan on Friday but they responded with a 5-2 win over Manchester Storm on Saturday. Cardiff were in action on Thursday night as they faced Milton Keynes and they came away 3-0 winners. Charles Linglet put the Devils ahead in the first period before Joey Haddad and Gleason Fournier added two more markers in the third period to secure the two points.
Dundee’s previous results against the Welsh side do not reflect how close they have come to beating the current league and play-off champions. A 3-2 overtime loss in Dundee almost seen Stars upset the Devils in their first tie. In their first visit to the Viola Arena, Stars had a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes but the home side came through to win 5-2.
Dundee kept up with the champions for 40 minutes in their second match in Tayside but the Devils pulled away in third period to win 6-3. However, Pacha’s side finally got their first win over Cardiff and it was on the road, Stars came back from 2-0 down in the third period to take the extra point in a penalty shootout.
Dundee have only one injury concern as defenceman Connor Cox could be questionable for this weekend.
Stars forward, François Bouchard reflected on last weekend’s success and discussed how Dundee can move forward.
He said: “It was a great weekend with the boys on the road with two wins in three days.
“We are on a good run right now and I think everybody’s confidence is really high and we just need to stay humble and keep it that way.”
Stars bounced back with wins from each of their two defeats in the last 10 games and Bouchard said: “That is what good teams do, you can’t just go down after a loss.
“Even after big wins, like I said, we need to stay humble and don’t let our emotions get too high or too low.”
The experienced Canadian winger has received a lot of recognition in the past few weeks for his performances during the Stars surge up the standings.
“It is always good to be producing when your team is winning and I think everyone is chipping in at some point.
“Obviously our defence are playing some good hockey and since the beginning of the year, Pontus (Sjögren) has been solid too.
“When you have all that mixed together we play a good game and we are a tough team to beat.
“It is good for me and my confidence as well and obviously it is good for us to be winning,” added Bouchard.
Looking to the first fixture of the weekend against Cardiff Devils, François said: “That will be a big game, whenever you play those top teams you want to bring your A-game.
“We have shown in the past that we can beat them but we have to be cautious because they are a good team and are deep in every position.
“It is going to be a good game, in their barn it is always hard to play there but we have shown in the past games that we can be in the game and beat them.”
Their previous shootout victory in Wales has given the Stars side another confidence boost.
Bouchard said: “Our confidence is really high right now and we know we can beat anybody in the league and we just need to play our game and play the system and keep working hard.
“We are a hard-working team and we are fast, so we need to do those things right and we will be fine against teams like Cardiff.”
Face-off is at 7pm for Saturday’s game at the Viola Arena.
Sunday night sees Stars return home for an Elite League match-up with Nottingham Panthers, another top team that Dundee recently brought down. Sunday’s match at the DIA will face-off at 5pm.