By Kris Smith
The Kitmart Dundee Stars are aiming to get back to winning ways against the Guildford Flames this Sunday.
Following last Sunday’s 5-4 overtime loss to Coventry Blaze which ended Stars short-winning streak, Omar Pacha is plotting another victory over the Flames to get the playoff push back on track.
The Flames were defeated 2-1 by Sheffield on home ice on Wednesday evening but they take on the Steelers again this Saturday. They travel to Yorkshire before heading north to Dundee and Stars do not play on Saturday evening.
Yesterday evening seen the Steelers prevail over the Flames, Jonas Westerling put Sheffield ahead before Anthony DeLuca doubled the home side’s lead. Calle Ackered’s powerplay goal got Guildford off the mark in the second period but Evan McGrath soon restored the two-goal cushion. Ackered netted again on the powerplay late in the third period but the game would end 3-2.
When the pair met two weeks ago at the DIA, Dundee scraped a narrow 2-1 win as Matt Marquardt’s overtime winner helped claim their first ever win over Guildford.
John Dunbar had given Paul Dixon’s side the lead after a scoreless first period but Charles Corcoran brought the home side level in the third. Marquardt’s winner came in the 63rd minute as he tucked his own rebound past Travis Fullerton.
Former Star, Fullerton has conceded seven goals against his former club this season and was in net during the 11-goal thriller at the Spectrum in October. However, his rival for the starting spot, Chris Carrozzi has conceded only twice against Dundee this season as his side skated to a 4-2 victory in the DIA.
Dundee’s netminder Pontus Sjögren has conceded 11 goals against the Flames and the Swede has posted a 3.04 goals against average this season, along with a 90 per cent save percentage.
Ackered is considered as one of the most dangerous defenders in the league, the Swede has a cannon for a shot and has racked up 19 goals and 19 assists from 42 league appearances. Guildford’s Ben Davies won last week’s Elite League Player of the Week award.
This week seen some positive news on the injury front for the Tayside team as captain Johan Andersson is expected to return to the line-up for this weekend and Matt Bissonnette remains doubtful but is expected to be back in action by next week. Meanwhile François Bouchard faces another few weeks out.
Stars new addition, Oliver Paczkowski made his debut last weekend and picked up an assist against Manchester and the Stars head coach, Omar Pacha said: “So far he has been okay, I think he can better still with his conditioning and everything but I think everybody needs to keep level-headed in the sense where he was brought in to fill more of a depth role, rather than a scoring one.”
Looking to the weekend Pacha said: “Play the same way we have been playing recently, I think the main thing compared to last Sunday is trying to stay out of the box even through the calls were questionable at times.
“We want to play teams five-on-five and we seem to have some success, so hopefully we can do that.
Yes, our kill has been good but when you are playing short of players, you can’t be killing all game and that is what happened in the last game.
“So hopefully we can get back to playing five-on-five and be structured defensively, especially against Guildford who have a lot of skill upfront.”
He also stressed the point of taking more shots if they are defeat the Flames again.
Pacha added: “I think the main thing to do is to get pucks through and to the net against that team, they play well defensively and you can’t play a run and gun game against them because they have skilled offence.
“So if you play a structed game, try and limit their chances and when you get chances, try to be a bit more direct, you give yourself a better chance to win the hockey game.
“Fortunately, last week we got the two points but we were not shooting the puck enough in the first two periods, so hopefully we can do that from the start.”
Stars winger, Matt Marquardt expects the team to get back on track after last weekend’s “disappointing loss”.
He said: “Coventry was a disappointing loss but at the same time we played a solid game, in a tough building against a solid team and we were short-staffed once again.
“11 out of 12 points and we were all disappointed but that just goes to show the character in our locker room and how much winning means to us.
“At the same time, we worked hard and battled but came up short in OT but that’s life, it’s no reason to hang our heads or do anything different.
“We pull up our socks, roll up our sleeves, stay the course and prepare for Guildford.”
The Canadian scored the game-winning-goal against Guildford last time but he placed emphasis on the hard-work done by the hole team to win the two points.
Matt added: “It just felt great to get another hard-earned win at home.
“To earn a result against a high-octane offence like Guildford was huge for us.
“We worked so hard and battled for one another despite being so short benched without three top forwards.
“Our team is very resilient and everyone is all in.
“Young guys like (Craig) Garrigan and (Jordan) Kelsall deserve a lot of credit stepping up and playing important minutes with a team first, defence first mentality.”
According to Marquardt, the team are focused on the “process rather the result”.
He said: “We need to play the same way we’ve been playing.
Just stay the course, play within our system but we’re focused on the process more than the result.
“Guildford is a great team with a lot of high-end skill and solid goaltending.
“We need to continue to play hard, smart and together.
“We need to play well defensively and create offense from our responsible defensive game.”
Face-off is at 5pm on Sunday.