By Kris Smith
To start off week two of our ‘Look Back’ series, we will be taking you back to the 2002-2003 campaign, which was the club’s second year in the British Ice Hockey.
As mentioned last week, the BNL was the second tier in British hockey and first ran from 1954 to 1960 and then again from 1997 to 2005.
After an extremely successful inaugural season, where the Stars won both the league and playoff titles, they had set a high standard for the future but in the 2002-03 campaign, they fell just short of reaching a similar set of outstanding achievements.
Once the 36-game season was complete, Dundee had 55 points and finished in second place, which was only seven points behind the champions, Coventry Blaze.
Although, there was an 11-point gap to the next best team, which was Guildford Flames and it was another year of high scoring for the Tayside team, as they netted the most goals in the league with 196.
However, they only conceded the third lowest amount with 109 goals against, meanwhile the Blaze allowed just 69 goals in their entire campaign.
Scottish rivals, Edinburgh Capitals and Fife Flyers finished six and seventh in the now 10-team league and the newly recruited; Newcastle Vipers and renamed; Solihull MK Kings replaced the Slough Jets, Peterborough Pirates and Paisley Pirates.
The team was again led by player-coach, Tony Hand and he kept on his coaching staff from the first year, so he was again supported by Roger Hunt and Colin Wilson.
However, Tony stepped down mid-season and forward, Ken Priestlay took over as the player-coach for the remainder of the season
The same Scottish goaltending duo of Stephen Murphy and Stewart Rugg backstopped the Stars for another season and other key re-signings on the blue-line included; Scott Young, Jan Mikel and Dominic Hopkins.
Meanwhile, the defensive unit was strengthened with the addition of Chris Conaboy, Dan Ratushny and Marty Hughes and alongiwth Hand, forwards; Patric Lochi, Martin Wiita and Teeder Wynne all had another productive year, as they contributed between them 260 points to the league campaign.
Swede, Johan Boman and Canadian, Priestlay also joined the club that year and put up good numbers, as they finished fourth and third in the Dundee top scorers list for the 2002-03 season.
Hand was again the top point scorer and top assister on the team with 80 points and 58 helpers in the full 36-game season and Boman netted the most goals with 34 in 35 matches.
While, Conaboy was quick to gain the reputation as the team’s enforcer, he only came second in the penalty minutes category, as he fell behind Hand by just seven minutes.
In the post-season, the Stars came up against Guildford, Fife and Edinburgh in Group B and they went 5-0-1 to win their group.
The only loss came away to the Flames in the shape of a 4-1 defeat but that was quickly forgotten as in the next match, Dundee demolished the Flyers 9-2 at the Dundee Ice Arena.
The Tayside team and Guildford qualified for the Semi-Finals and Dundee came up against Cardiff Devils.
A 5-3 loss in Wales set-up a tense second leg and the Stars had managed to eliminate the Devils two-goal lead but a loss after penalty shots would end the club’s hopes of claiming back to back titles.
The Devils then went on to lose 5-3 on aggregate to Coventry in the final.
The team again made it to a Semi-Final and this time in the Findus Challenge Cup after creating a 5-2-1 winning record in the group stage, as they came up against Newcastle, Fife, Hull and Edinburgh.
The Stars only group stage defeat was in Newcastle as they slid to a 4-3 loss before Coventry eliminated them at the last four stage by a 6-4 scoreline.
However, the team recovered to beat Guildford 4-1 in the third place match.
Next we will be bringing you a look back at one Star Player from the 2002-2003 season and that will be released Wednesday at 12pm!
If you want to be a part of the historic 20th Dundee Stars season then you can buy your season tickets by contacting [email protected]