By Kris Smith
Three victories on the bounce in the Challenge Cup has got the Stars season finally going and they now aim to try and translate their fine form into the league fixtures, with ties against Guildford Flames and Sheffield Steelers this weekend.
So far, Dundee have played just one league match this season and were on the wrong end of a 2-1 scoreline in Nottingham, against the Panthers, with Philippe Sanche scoring their only goal.
Now, the Taysiders begin this weekend with their first long drive south to Surrey and take on the Flames for the first time this year.
Historically, Paul Dixon’s side are pacey and have goalscoring threats all over the ice and this season seems no different, with 26 goals already scored in their first seven games.
The Flames have already won four games but were defeated in their last outing, as they went down 6-3 to Sheffield Steelers, last Sunday.
Meanwhile, Dundee have recorded 17 goals in six matches and their three most productive players have been: Sanche (4G, 3A), Charlie Combs (2G, 4A) and Dillon Lawrence (4G).
Whereas, winger, Levi Cable (5G, 5A) and defender Jesper Alasaari (2G, 8A) both sit on top of Guildford’s scoring charts with 10 points each, while former Star, Jordan Cownie has recorded five assists so far.
On the other side of the puck, both teams goaltenders have been worked hard early in the season.
Dundee’s Adam Morrison has won three of the six games he has started, saving 205 of the 220 shots he has faced, while Kevin Lindskoug has four wins in seven and has stopped 212 of 232 shots.
The only Stars players who are confirmed to be missing out this weekend, are the inured duo of Craig Moore and Toms Rutkis, who both continue to recover from lower body injuries.
However, Guildford were only without young defenseman, Samuel Cooper for their last outing.
Speaking ahead of tonight match, Stars Head Coach, Omar Pacha said: “Guildford is a team that historically, has a lot of speed and offence and that seems the same again this year.
“They had a big result against Sheffield last weekend, but we have had success against them in the past and last year we went 4(wins)-1(loss) against them.
“So, we have a structure to play them, but we have changed a few things from our past with this new team.
“It will be a good challenge to see how our team matches with a good skating team, because I believe we are also a good skating team, so I think it will be a great game.”
Finnish defenseman, Markus Kankaanperä has a lot of experience in dealing with long travel before games and making sure you come ready to play.
The 41-year-old explained what he and his teammates must do to make sure they are prepared, he said: “We have been practicing certain things for this weekend but I think the main thing is that we are mentally prepared for tonight.
“If your mindset is ready to play, then your body will follow and also be ready to go from the first face-off.”
Markus also discussed the keys to winning tonight’s match, adding: “We have to control the middle of the ice, we cannot be turning pucks over in the neutral zone.
“So, we have to respect the bluelines, be really smart with the puck and put the puck in behind their defence so that they have to skate and that is they key to getting a win and controlling the game.”
Tonight’s game at the Spectrum Arena will face-off at 6pm.