By Kris Smith
The Stars meet the Steelers for the final time in league action this evening and on their two previous visits this season, they have played in two closely fought battles and emerged victorious on one occasion.
Dundee’s first visit to the Utilita Arena was in October and they were 2-1 winners on the night as Carter Folk and the since-departed, Fabrizio Ricci both found the back of the net.
Sheffield’s Martin Latal provided their only goal on the night but Aaron Fox’s men would then win the next game in Yorkshire, 9-4.
However, the Stars had taken a 1-0 lead and kept it close through the first two periods, with the Steelers 5-3 ahead after 40 minutes but they would then hit home four in the final session to seal the victory.
The Steelers have won all three contests in Dundee this season but last weekend they were shutout 4-0 on home ice by Belfast Giants, before taking a 4-1 win in Guildford over the Flames.
Meanwhile, the Stars played two games at home this weekend, starting off with a 5-2 loss to the Flames after being locked in a narrow battle all-night long, before Guildford pulled away in the final minutes.
Then last Sunday, the Stars were 1-0 ahead after just two minutes against Nottingham Panthers but ended up on the losing end of a 2-1 scoreline and they could be missing a few bodies tonight after a few players took knocks at the weekend.
Looking ahead to their final league visit to Sheffield, Stars Head Coach, Jeff Mason said: “We need a good effort and try to build off our performance on Sunday.
“If we go in there and we are detailed defensively and limit their offensive capabilities, then we will give ourselves a chance to win that game.
“We are generating enough offensive opportunities to score more but we just need to be hitting the back of the net and certainly against Sheffield, when we get our chances, we have to capitalise.
“We also have to limit their speed because they like to play long and fast, but we have done it before in that building, so we have that confidence and we need to find a way to make some plays when the game is on the line and turn the results in our favour.”
He continued: “If you look at the last weekend, Saturday is a 3-2 hockey game against Guildford who have been first and second in the league, throughout the whole season, and until late in that game, we cannot make a play to try and tie it up and we end up conceding before we get the chance to get the goalie out.
“I thought we were in that game, all the way through but I did not think our details were great, although I thought we were better on Sunday and we deserved a better outcome than we got.
“We have done well to put ourselves in games for the last while but we have to make the plays when it matters and it is something that we are not getting but hopefully we can find a way to go in and give ourselves a chance to be in that game and a chance to win, then we can find a way to get the job done.
“I believe all it takes is one for you to get that confidence and that belief and you make a push. It will not be easy but it is a task I believe we are capable of doing.”
Face-off for tonight’s game in Sheffield is at 7:30pm.
All images: Dean Wooley/Sheffield Steelers.