By Kris Smith
Milton Keynes Lightning are the hosts on Saturday night as the Kitmart Dundee Stars make the trip to Buckinghamshire aiming to bag a second straight victory.
Stars won their first game of their away triple header on Friday night as they scored in overtime to take the extra point against Nottingham Panthers. Dundee had fallen behind in the second minute after Justin Kovacs put the home side ahead but Omar Pacha’s men quickly responded. Fabrizio Ricci tied the game up to send the teams into the first break on level terms.
Matt Marquardt put Stars ahead early in the second but after a potential goal was ruled out by a video review, Nottingham picked-up some momentum. Alex Guptill made it 2-2 but minutes later, just after Panthers hit the post, François Bouchard went the other way and restored Dundee’s lead.
A defensive third period was going well for Stars until Kovacs netted again to tie the match, less than four minutes from time. Guillaume Lepine was thrown out of the game in overtime after picking up a penalty for tripping and a game misconduct for spearing. Nine seconds into the powerplay, Marquardt scored the winner.
Last weekend seen Milton Keynes respond to a 5-2 loss on the road in Dundee with a 4-2 home victory over Fife Flyers.
Including last week’s win over the Lightning, Stars have won two out of the three ties between them so far this season. The last two matches were held in Dundee where the Tayside club were also 4-3 winners in overtime but Stars lost out 3-2 in extra time, last time they visited the Lightning.
Both teams had full rosters in their last games and with Stars taking 15 points from the last 16 available, they have opened up an eight-point gap between themselves in seventh place and bottom of the league Lightning.
Stars winger, Matt Bissonnette has put 13 points since his return from injury in early November and reflecting on his own and the teams good run, he said: “While being out it was very frustrating not being able to help out while we were so close to a handful of wins!
“I’m very fortunate to be playing with Charles (Corcoran) and François (Bouchard), we have found a chemistry together and we are just happy to be contributing to some big wins!”
Looking to tonight’s games against the Lightning, the Canadian added: “The three games against Milton Keynes have all been close, and we expect the same on Saturday.
“As long as we stick to our systems, we will give ourselves a good chance to win.
“I’m sure this weekend will be a challenge, but we’ve had three games in three nights before with a lot more travel and came out with points.
“We hope to do the same this weekend.”
Finally, Bissonnette, an experienced Elite League player, has no doubt that Stars can make the play-offs this year.
He said: “I’m very confident in our group and our chance at making play-offs.
“I think the rough patch we went through really showed the character we have and we were rewarded with a nice winning streak!”
Dundee head coach, Omar Pacha reiterated the importance of taking points off of teams like Coventry and Milton Keynes, who are also in the play-off fight.
He said: “They are teams that are right around us in the standings, so we need to get a result and get some points.
“It is always important to collect points on the road and against these teams it is very important.”
Tonight’s game faces-off at 7pm.