By Kris Smith
Omar Pacha’s side almost made history in last night’s 3-2 shootout loss to Sheffield, the Stars have yet to win an away game against the Steelers.
Dundee were once again without injured forwards Lukas Lundvald and Matt Bissonnette, while Sheffield were only misisng the injured Robert Dowd.
There were chances for both teams early in the opening minutes, Sheffield missed the target before Stars had a breakaway but Matt Marquardt could not punish his old employers. Marquardt was at it again moments later as he broke into the offensive zone but the puck was lifted out of play. Sheffield hit the post after the restart but Pontus Sjögren held the second effort well.
Steelers began to build pressure in the Stars end and they had a big chance to punish Dundee for their mistake, a lapse in concertation behind the goal allowed a Sheffield player to steal the puck from Sjögren but the net was dislodged before a chance could be finished. As a result, Dundee were penalised for delay of game and Craig Garrigan was sent to the box for two minutes in the 7th minute.
Brian Hart was next to go in one-on-one with Jackson Whistle in Sheffield goal but he was denied. The home side began to gain more possession and offensive zone time but Stars were doing well to forces their opponents to the outside and making them play the puck around the boards.
Stars soon gained their first man advantage of the night as Jordan Owens was penalised for holding-the-stick in the 11th minute. Omar Pacha’s powerplay woes continued as they failed to capitalise on the man advantage. Inside the final five minutes of the first period with the game still goalless, Marquardt was making things happen for Dundee, he almost split the defence before falling to the ice. Although the forward still got his shot off but only to be denied by the blocker of Whistle.
A penalty was called against David Phillips for holding on that play as Stars prepared for their second chance with the extra man in the 19th minute. Once again, they could not find the net on the powerplay and the first period ended 0-0.
Dundee had many good chances in the opening minutes of the second stanza but the pick of the bunch was Charles Corcoran’s, he seen his first effort denied before trying to jab home the loose puck that was eventually lost from sight. Marquardt found himself on another breakaway but Whistle continued to deny the Stars.
Steelers started to become dangerous again and an unmarked Steeler was alone in the slot and as the pass was fed to him, an aggressive stick check by Sjögren prevented him from getting his shot away.
Sheffield’s Stefan Della Rovere was next to sit in the penalty box for high-sticking in the 29th minute and that led to a great chance for Dundee. Tanner Eberle would join him after being called for holding 51 seconds later, leaving Stars with a 5-on-3 chance.
Despite a lot of pressure from Dundee the Yorkshire club held on to get one of their players back before a shot from the blue line was saved by the Steelers netminder but the rebound fell to Brian Hart and he managed to hit it over the glove of Whistle to give Dundee the lead at 30:48.
Straight after the restart, Mike Sullivan picked up a penalty for elbowing, giving Paul Thompson’s side a chance to equalise quickly but Stars defended well and cleared their lines until the penalty expired. However, Sheffield were handed another chance on the powerplay as soon as it expired. Connor Cox was boxed on an interference call in the 34th minute.
Dundee had another good chance in the final moments of the second period, a 4-on-2 break for Stars led to two good shots being saved before a third flashed across the face of Whistle’s goal. With just seven seconds left in the middle period, Marquardt finally found the twine with a backhanded shot, to double Stars lead.
The third period began with Stars back on the powerplay as David Phillips was called for holding after just 30 seconds. However, Sheffield were the team that took advantage as Jordan Owens lifted the puck over Sjögren at 41:51. The game heated up as both side went back and forth with good chances but again Sheffield were in penalty trouble as Josh McFadden was penalised for roughing in the 48th minute.
Dundee were unable to get another powerplay goal to increase their lead and soon landed themselves on the back foot as François Bouchard was given a minor penalty for high-sticking.
Whistle made an impressive save to deny Dundee on their fourth breakaway of the game and as thanks, Chris Lawrence went up the other end and tied the game at 2-2 after 56:02. Stars were holding on for their point and still managing to get forward, despite having a seventh powerplay chance, they could not steal a winner.
Although Sheffield almost did if it were not for Petr Chaloupka who blocked a pass across the slot before beating away the puck.
Regulation time ended and even five minutes of overtime could not find a winner, so the game fell into a shootout where Sheffield’s Brendan Brooks and Dundee’s Chaloupka were both denied in the opening round.
Chris Lawrence gave Sheffield the advantage before Marquardt’s shot was saved. Justin Buzzeo and Charles Corcoran both failed to score, as did Evan McGrath and Bouchard. Josh Pitt scored on his shot to seal the extra point for Steelers.
Stars played an excellent road game and were unfortunate not to come away with the extra point. Both goaltenders, Whistle and Stars’ Sjögren were named ‘Man of the Match’.
Omar Pacha has one day to rest and prepare his side before a triple header weekend that begins with a trip to Belfast on Friday.