By Kris Smith
The Stars are hoping to strengthen their hold on the eighth and final playoff berth as they face fierce competition from their Scottish rivals, Fife Flyers and Glasgow Clan, but they head to a venue where they have been just shy of success on multiple occasions.
The SSE Arena has saw three contests between Dundee and Belfast so far this season and each fixture has been decided by just one goal, but on all three occasions the home team have prevailed.
A 5-4 overtime loss in September was followed by a 3-2 shootout defeat in October, before the Giants were 5-4 winners in regulation in December.
However, Adam Keefe’s side have been knocked off their stride in the run up to Christmas with injuries and departures hampering their squad, but Belfast have since recovered to win their last eight league games.
The Giants have also confirmed the return of goaltender, Tyler Beskorowany after he exited retirement to begin his third stint in Belfast and the 32-year-old has helped Belfast to a pair of league and cup titles in his two previous Elite League seasons.
Meanwhile, the Stars come into the weekend in mixed form after splitting their last four games with two wins and two losses against the Clan and Flyers, but the last two games against Glasgow saw Dundee ice every player for the first time this season.
Although, they may not have the same opportunity this week as a few players are fighting through some knocks picked up over the festive period.
Looking ahead to his side’s final trip to Belfast, Stars Head Coach, Jeff Mason said: “We certainly have to come out and play well from the get go.
“They are a team that likes to play fast and long, they come out very aggressive, so we have to be ready for them to come at us and hopefully we can make plays in transition and catch them out when being aggressive.
“They are not a team that you can chase the game against, so we have to make sure we are ready right from the start and they are hot right now – they just advanced in the cup, they have won their last eight in the league and they have got guys back, new guys in and are playing really well.
“So, we will have to make them work, put a lot of pucks on their goalies and a lot of traffic in front of them, so he struggles to see pucks.
“If we can find a way to start fast then we can get ourselves into a good position and we have played well in that building this year, so hopefully we can use that and take the game to them.”
Forward, Hugo Reinhardt made his return to action last week after missing 11 games through injury and speaking of his excitement to be back on the ice and helping the team with their push to the playoffs.
He added: “It has been a long month but I am happy to be back out there and helping the team to move forward.
“Every game is important and every point counts, so going over there we know they will come hard and fast, and we just need to pick up the pace and play our game.
“They are a good team and it is always a tough game against them but we believe we can win both and that is exactly what we will try to do, starting tonight.”
Face-off is at 7pm both tonight in Belfast and tomorrow in Dundee, as the Stars welcome the Giants.
All images: William Cherry/Presseye.