(Picture: Mark Ferris)
By Kris Smith
Dundee led three times in Northern Ireland on Saturday night and played a solid defensive game, despite being without two defenders due to injury.
The Stars were 1-0 ahead after the first period thanks to Kevin Dufour who made Belfast keeper, Shane Owen open up for him and that allowed him to slip the puck beneath the Canadian and into the net for a shorthanded goal.
The home side tied the game in the second period through Curtis Hamilton who sent a quick shot through the five-hold of Alex Leclerc in the 30th minute and up until then the Stars goalie had been on top form and unbeatable.
Dufour put Dundee back in front whilst on the powerplay with another great finish as he was flying towards Owen before beating him glove side in the 37th minute.
However, in less than a minute, the Giants would be back on level terms as Ben Lake tucked away a pass from behind the goal.
The teams were tied at two a piece after two periods and in the third session, Dundee again went back in front.
This time it was Anthony Beauregard putting the Taysiders ahead, after he went clean through on a breakaway and slowed down at the last second to create space between him and a sprawling Owen before calmly slotting the puck into the goal in the 52nd minute.
Beauregard bagged his second in the final minutes and it was another shorthanded goal.
The Canadian centreman recovered possession in his own end before picking out an empty Belfast goal from 60 feet away.
Adam Keefe’s men offered a late response through Brian Ward as his shot slipped through the grasp of Leclerc and across the line with 17 seconds left on the clock.
However, it was too late for the reigning Challenge Cup champions and Dundee would take the two road points to move themselves further clear of everyone else in Group A.
Dundee were tremendous at blocking shots last night and got in the way of a lot of them but Leclerc still stopped 65 of the 68 shots that got through to him.
Meanwhile, down in Manchester, it did not go the right way for Ryan Finnerty’s Storm side as they were beaten 2-1 by Nottingham Panthers and all the goals came in the first 20 minutes.
Adam Hughesman had put Manchester ahead but they gave up two goals in less than two minutes to fall behind.
A powerplay goal, followed by a shorthanded goal meant that Tim Wallace’s Panthers would have the lead and it was lead they would clinch onto for the rest of the game.
Omar Pacha will have his side fired up for tonight’s tie with the Storm and the Stars players will be ready to get one over on Manchester after losing 3-1 in Altrincham just two weeks ago.
Discussing the home game against Manchester, the Stars boss said: “We are just going to have to see how they play.
“We will do a bit of video on them this week and we will have a plan in place for Manchester.
“Last time we played them, I like how we moved our feet, even if it was a small ice.”
Stars forward Brett Stovin is no stranger to the Storm after playing against them in friendlies with the University of Manitoba.
Talking about the difference he has seen in the Manchester team since last season, Stovin said: “They haven’t changed their style much, looking at their team, they have physicality and a bit of speed but I would say they are maybe a little faster this year.
“They still play the same way in their own rink anyways and the difference between playing with the Bisons and playing here is the guys around me.
“They have a lot more knowledge and a lot of guys have more experience, so it’s a lot different playing with the guys here than it is with my university team.
“In terms of Manchester, they for the most part are the same, so I just have to go out and do the same job I did last year.”
The Stars were hampered in their offensive ability by Manchester’s small ice pad and the fact that the Storm can control the play well in their own barn but now on home and a much bigger sheet of ice, the Dundee players are confident of making life difficult for their opposition.
Stovin added: “The bigger ice is something that we are used to practicing on and we have been here a while now, so it’s a little bit easier for us to adjust compared to them playing on a smaller ice.
“I think the biggest advantage comes just from being on your home ice whether it be bigger or smaller.
“Just being at home with your own crowd and on the ice where you practice a majority of the time, is the biggest advantage.
“It will be just like playing any other team where we have to come out flying at home and you have to take advantage of those home points.
“I think we just have to stick with our game plan, we are a fast team that can play opportunistic hockey and no matter who we are playing we have to stick with that.
“Against Manchester we have to stick with our speed and play fast and that is what it is going to take on Sunday.
“We have to outskate them, outwork them and get to the net and we all know that’s how you score goals in this league, so we just have to stick to that and keep going.”
Face-off time for tonight’s game is at 5pm! Tickets are available HERE.