By Kris Smith
The Stars head into this weekend just three points behind seventh-placed, Manchester, but have played 34 games compared to the Storm’s 32.
Jeff Mason’s men make their second trip of the season to the Storm Shelter tonight and whilst they have yet to beat Manchester, both previous games have not been easy contests for Matt Ginn’s side.
Back in October, Dundee hosted the Altrincham-side and had a 4-1 lead with only 12 minutes to play, but the Storm would battle back to claim a 5-4 win in overtime.
Then a few weeks later in Manchester, another close battle ended with the home side securing a 5-2 victory after the Stars had gone all out to tie a one-goal game in the third period.
Leading the Stars offence against the Storm has been Elijiah Barriga, who has two goals and two assists across both games and the American could net his 25th of the season if he adds another this weekend.
Meanwhile, Manchester’s leading scorer against Dundee, Jesper Ohrvall was absent in the Storm’s last game through injury and the Tayside team may benefit from him being out of the line-up again this weekend, but they will also be facing a different goalie.
Netminder, Hayden Lavigne was released by the Storm this week, meaning either Jeremy Brodeur or James Downie will get the start against Dundee, but the Scots will be icing only five defenders after Canadian, Colin Joe was let go mid-week.
The Stars also have a few players currently battling injuries but there is hope that Ben Sokay will return to the line-up this weekend after missing the last three games with an upper-body injury.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s crucial matches, Stars Head Coach, Mason said: “This really is a massive weekend for us and I told the guys that throughout this week of practice.
“We have the potential to come out of this weekend in seventh place or out of the playoff spots, so playing teams that are directly above and below us, makes it two massive games.
“We have seen Fife a lot this season and know how to play against them, but Manchester is a team that competes really hard, especially in their building and it is never an easy game in there.
“You have to commit to competing hard and making simple plays, doing the right things in that arena, not turning pucks over and playing kind of a greasy-style game because that is what it takes to win.
“So, that has been our focus all week, going in their with that attitude and mentality, and trying to take the two points then come home for a big one against Fife.”
Stars keeper, Anton Svensson also discussed the importance of the tonight’s game and what it will take to get the two points.
He added: “Every game is important for us, it does not matter what team we are playing, but these two points can be massive for us in the standings.
“It is hard to come and play in Manchester because the ice is smaller and it is a different game down there, where every shot can be dangerous.
“If we play hard, skate hard and have get our sticks in front of puck then we can be successful and that is going to be our game from start to finish, because scoring chances come from everywhere on that ice, so we need to stick together in the defensive zone and play tight.”
He continued: “They have players that can rip some really good shots, so we need to play tight together for 60 minutes, work hard and battle harder.
“That all makes my job easier and my focus can be on just stopping the next puck to give the team a chance to win.”
Face-off is at 7pm for tonight’s game in Manchester. You can watch the game LIVE here!
All images: Storm Images.