The Kitmart Dundee Stars face Manchester Storm in a crucial playoff battle at the Dundee Ice Arena tonight and a win could move Dundee into the playoff spots and put them within three points of the seventh placed Storm, with two games in hand.

By Kris Smith

The Stars need to bounce back after narrowly losing in their last game, as they were defeated 3-1 by Fife Flyers at home, while the Storm won 2-0 in Glasgow last night.

Matt Carter found the net for Dundee and Henrik Samuelsson and Scott Simmonds scored for Manchester in Glasgow but the Storm were without Dallas Ehrhardt and Cam Critchlow for that match.

Dundee have won both games at home, so far, against Ryan Finnerty’s Manchester this season and have lost on all three trips down to Altrincham. Tonight’s clash will be the last meeting between the two teams in the regular season.

The Storm have outscored Dundee 15-10 across five games. The Stars will still be one man down as forward, Alex Schoenborn remains out through injury, even though he was back skating this week in practice. Manchester have their injury worries too, but have picked up a few extra imports in the last few weeks.

Looking ahead to the weekend, Stars Head Coach, Pacha said: “Obviously, we expect a better performance.

“We want to make sure we play with that jump, that speed and that energy that we had in Sheffield and bring it all night and every night.

“We have to move on from last week because we have a huge game against Manchester and the reality is, we need the points.

“So, we need to go out there and be prepared but also play a lot harder.”

As Dundee are trying to catch the Storm and Clan in the playoff race, this is another huge tie for the Tayside team and another must win.

Pacha added: “It is massive, this is a four-point swing and we don’t know which two teams are going to get those last two spots but Manchester are one of the teams that is competing with us, so we need to make sure we do the job at home now.

“We have put ourselves in a position to take care of business at home with the game against Manchester and later on Glasgow, when they come here.

“So, those two games are crucial and if we do the job at home then we will put ourselves in an even better position for the final few games.”

The Canadian coach is not thinking too much about Sunday’s trip to title-challengers Cardiff but is confident his side can achieve a similar result to their win over the league leaders two weeks ago.

“All of our focus is on Saturday but we have played alright in Cardiff this year”, he said.

“We played well at times and it is one of those games, where I think it will be a tough journey down as we will have to leave at 4am in the morning but they will also be playing on the Saturday night too, as they have a game in Nottingham.

“So, it will be great challenge to see how we match-up when we get there and obviously they are competing for a title, but we are competing for a playoff spot, so I don’t think there is any points guaranteed for anyone.

“We proved that in Sheffield and we will take that same mindset into Cardiff.”

To win any points this weekend the Stars boss has demanded a more assertive approach from his players.

Pacha said: “Firstly, we need to play more aggressive, we need to be playing with speed and cohesion throughout the whole group.

“I though against Fife, we struggled to maintain and sustain offensive zone chances but I think if we play the way we can, with speed and creativity in the offensive zone then we will get a good outcome.

“Manchester are a team that will sit back a bit more, so we have to make sure we put pressure on them and force turnovers.”

Meanwhile, Dundee defender, Kris Inglis has stated that the team know they need bounce back after last weekend’s defeat.

He said: “Losing in a derby match is always gutting especially in such an important one.

“As a group we know we weren’t at our best and our execution wasn’t as good as previous weeks.

“So, every game from now until the end is a must win and we can’t let any chances slip through our fingers.

“The boys know this and I’m sure we will get back on track.”

The Dundonian also stressed the importance of winning against teams like Manchester and making sure they are ready to go right from the start.

Kris added: “Like I said, every match is a must win and Saturday is no different, Manchester are right above us it’s important to win games against these teams we are chasing to try and diminish their playoff hopes.

“It’s going to be a high tempo match and we must stay disciplined in our system to limit their offensive chances.

“A full 60-minute performance is needed to get the two points and we can’t afford anymore slow starts but I’m confident in the group to come to the rink on Saturday ready to go.”

Face-off for tonight’s home game against Manchester faces-off at 7pm. You can buy your tickets HERE!

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Kitmart Dundee Stars Team
15 Games
2 Wins
7 Losses
1 OT Losses
9 Points