By Kris Smith
The Kitmart Dundee Stars are searching for a fourth straight win as they welcome the Guildford Flames to the DIA this evening.
Stars have yet to beat Paul Dixon’s side since they made the step-up to the Elite League last season. Dundee have lost all six meetings with Guildford and only one has gone into extra time.
The Tayside team have netted just 12 goals against the Flames but they have found the twine 28 times in those six games. Stars lost the first match of this campaign in Surrey 6-5 as they rallied back in the third period to put pressure on the hosts who held on for the win. The following night seen Flames take a 4-2 victory at the DIA, despite another high-scoring third period.
Since the last meeting between the Flames and the Stars, Guildford have brought in Canadian forward, T.J. Foster and English goalie, Jake Stoodley.
Dundee’s 4-3 win over Nottingham Panthers on Friday moved them up to six position and they now have on average, one point per game, as they sit on 39 points after 39 matches.
Dundee trailed to the English club after 11 minutes as Alexander Guptill gave the visitors the lead but Lukas Lundvald redirected a shot past Michael Garnett to tie things up. Nottingham responded quickly as Ollie Betteridge restored their lead 33 seconds after the restart.
Rookie, Craig Garrigan scored his first professional goal in fantastic style as he corralled a loose puck before putting a shot on target that flew past Garnett. However, Rick Strachan’s men netted from the face-off again. It took 34 seconds for Guptill to bag his brace with a backhanded shot.
Although, Garrigan was on hand to tie things-up for a second time as he stuck the rebound from Drydn Dow’s shot into the roof of the goal. Brian Hart’s game-winning goal came in the 53rd minute as he released a quick shot that beat Garnett up high. Garrigan received the ‘Man of the Match’ award as the 90’s kid saved 80’s night.
It was not all good news for Omar Pacha as he lost three forwards to injury during the game but it did make that victory a lot more impressive. François Bouchard, Matt Bissonnette and captain, Johan Andersson all remain highly doubtful for tonight’s battle with the Flames.
Dixon’s side lost 4-3 in overtime on Saturday night to Fife Flyers. After falling behind, Foster netted in the first period to tie the game at 1-1 before goals from Jamie Crooks and Ian Watters drew the home side level again after Fife had taken a 3-1 lead.
Watters struck with just 34 seconds left of regulation, to force overtime. However, Brett Bulmer won the extra point for Flyers after nearly four minutes of extra time.
Guildford had six players absent from their line-up on Saturday against Fife. Joshua Waller and Richard Krogh were away with the GB Under 20’s squad, as was Dundee’s Jordan Kelsall, who missed Friday’s game.
Netminders, Travis Fullerton and Stoodley were both healthy scratch but Kevin Phillips and Evan Ritt also did not ice for the Flames.
Stars defenceman, Kris Inglis reflected on Friday night’s character comeback.
He said: “Everyone pulled together, we did not let going down a few bodies phase us.
“I don’t know if we will get any guys back by Sunday but the team are all playing for each other and we have a lot of confidence right now.
“We are playing with a bit of swagger too and hopefully we can carry that into Sunday.”
The 20-year old also looked ahead to tonight’s huge game with Guilford, he added: “I feel like we are on a bit of a run just now.
“The team is all playing for each other, we are battling hard and sticking to the system and everything is going well.
“Hopefully after Friday’s big win we can carry momentum into Sunday and get that W.
“We are in the hunt for the playoff spots and we are doing well just now.
“I feel like the way we are playing we can beat anyone, especially at home and we are battling for each other but we just have to dig deep and get that win.”
Face-off tonight is 5pm with tickets available from the DIA box office right up until puck drop.