By Kris Smith
After defeating two of the league’s top teams in back-to-back games, Stars are hungry to extend their winning run as they take on English sides in a home-double header this weekend.
The Kitmart Dundee Stars host Milton Keynes Lightning and Sheffield Steelers this weekend as they look to continue their excellent form and can potentially make it seven wins in a row.
Stars currently share the league’s longest winning-streak with Nottingham Panthers, as both teams have won their last five matches. The Tayside team begin their weekend with a game against, bottom of the table, Milton Keynes. The Lightning are five points behind the ninth place Stars.
The positive news out of the Dundee camp this week is that captain Johan Andersson will return to action this Saturday while Jordan Kelsall will continue to be evaluated before the weekend. Meanwhile, the Buckinghamshire club were at full strength in their last match. They kicked-off December by beating Manchester Storm 5-2 at home, with goals from Nelson Armstrong (3), Owen Griffiths, Georgs Golovkovs.
In the last week, Dundee have claimed another four-point weekend, which was rounded off by an impressive comeback win against defending champions, Cardiff Devils before slaying the Belfast Giants mid-week. A François Bouchard hat-trick helped Pacha’s side to a 6-4 victory over the league leaders. Shawn Boutin, Brian Hart and Matt Marquardt also found the net.
Since the departure of head coach, Doug McKay, several players also left the club but player-coaches, Tim Wallace and Ryan Lannon recently brought in Croatian, defenceman Ivan Sijan.
Tim Wallace and Andreas Valdix still lead the Lightning in points with 22 and 21 from 23 games each. Wallace has scored seven goals and assisted on 15, while Valdix has netted on five and assisted on 16 occasions. Dundee’s hat-trick hero, Bouchard already has one goal and three assists against the Lightning this year.
Both sides have won a game each this season and the first tie went to Milton Keynes in England. Despite goals from Drydn Dow and Hart, a 3-2 overtime loss sent Stars packing with just a point before the result was reversed and Dundee won 4-3 in overtime on home ice. Lukas Lundvald, Andersson, Marquardt and Bouchard provided Dundee’s goals.
Since Milton Keynes joined the Elite League last season, Stars have won four of the six meetings and are undefeated at home against the Lightning.
Dundee Stars head coach, Omar Pacha is looking for his side to keep doing the same things right and continue playing well defensively. He also said: “We have to have the same mindset that we have had in the past five games”, if his side are to build-on their five-game winning streak.
Dundee-born forward, Craig Garrigan stepped into a bigger role on Wednesday as he took the place of the injured captain, Andersson. Looking back on his chance to prove his abilities, Craig said: “It was great to play a good number of minutes on Wednesday and I was delighted to contribute towards a big win against a team like Belfast.”
The 20-year old Elite League rookie also notched his first Elite League point, with an assist against Belfast. “I have been waiting patiently for my chance to show that I am capable to play in this league and I feel like getting my first point has helped gain confidence for future games” added Garrigan.
With two big home games this weekend, repeating their good performances will be key to extending their winning-run according to Craig. He said: “I just expect the whole team to keep playing the way we are.
“We have proved that we are more than capable of competing with any team in the league, we need to play a strong game and get pucks on net to be successful.
“If we just stick to our game plan then I am very confident that we will get the job done.”
Face-off for Saturday’s game is at 7pm. Dundee are back at home on Sunday as they take on the Sheffield Steelers. Stars have come close to beating the sixth-place side in several games this season but Tom Barrasso’s side still remain undefeated against Dundee. Sunday’s game will start at 5pm.