By Kris Smith
The Stars were defeated twice at the weekend as their three-match winning-streak came to an end in Manchester with a 5-2 loss to the Storm, before they were beaten 6-3 in Guildford by the Flames, on Sunday.
The Giants also had their run of three wins on the bounce halted as they went down 4-3 to Guildford away from home, last Saturday after beating Cardiff Devils 4-2 in Wales, the night before.
This will be the third competitive match between Dundee and Belfast this season, with the Giants taking wins in all games, but Adam Keef’s men nearly lost on home ice as the Stars kept finding ways to get ahead, only for the Giants to comeback and win the match in overtime.
Last time at the SSE Arena, Scott Conway gave the home team an early lead, but Romans Semjonovs would answer back for Dundee before the end of the first period, and just 18 seconds into the second period, Philippe Sanche put the Tayside Team ahead.
Despite Ciaran Long’s equaliser, Elijiah Barriga would convert a penalty shot to keep the Stars in front heading into the final period of regulation, where David Gilbert would swiftly make it a 3-3 game.
However, Sanche found another way past Peyton Jones in the Belfast goal to give Dundee their third lead of the night, with only 10 minutes remaining, although it took just seconds for Mark Cooper to tie the game once again.
Overtime was required and Gilbert beat Anton Svensson to win the extra point for Belfast and whilst the Stars will be hoping to go one better upon their return to Belfast, they may have to do it without Sanche, Hugo Reinhardt and Colin Joe.
Those three players as all remain doubtful after injuries kept them out of action in the last match but forward, Ben Sokay finally returned to the line-up and played his first full game on Sunday, where he contributed a goal and two assists.
Looking back over the weekend, Stars Head Coach, Jeff Mason said: “We were obviously disappointed to not come away with any points from the weekend.
“I thought at times we played well and in Manchester, I thought the effort was there but we just struggled with execution and lost the special teams battle and that ended up being the difference in the game.
“I was extremely disappointed with our start in Guildford and knowing all the circumstances surrounding the delayed face-off, I do not think we handled that well.
“Coming out of the first period 4-0 down, you are in a hole that is obviously too much to come back from, but that said, I liked our effort in the second and third.
“I thought we did a lot of good things and we have to use that as a lesson, in that you cannot take parts of games off and win hockey games.
“So, I am disappointed not to bring home any points from the weekend but we just have to turn our attention to Belfast.”
Switching focus to tonight’s task of toppling Belfast, he continued: “It is a busy schedule for us, with a lot of travel but we just need to find a way to put some points on the board.
“We have seen them a lot this year, we know what their strengths are and what they are trying to do, so we have to find a way to keep their top line in-check.
“They are a team that we have to be on from the first whistle to the last and be dialled in and ready to go, because they are a team that can capitalise quickly if you are not.
“We know we can play with them and have success against them, so we just need to have a full team effort for a full 60 minutes or possibly more, but I think some of our previous results against them have been encouraging.
“There was our last game over in Belfast, where we were leading in the third period and it was disappointing not to come out of there with two points, so the goal is to go in there and find a way to come out of that building with the two points this time.”
Face-off for tonight’s match in Belfast is at 7pm.