By Kris Smith
The Kitmart Dundee Stars finally claimed their first win of 2019 and reached a few more milestones along the way with a victory in Yorkshire.
Steelers were five players down while Stars were only without Jordan Kelsall who was in Estonia on international duty for GB.
Jackson Whistle was chosen to start in goals for Sheffield with Brad Day backing him up but Matt Climie is favourite to start on Sunday against Dundee.
Stars gained their first powerplay whilst on their initial attack as Mark Matheson was called for hooking after 43 seconds. Omar Pacha’s powerplay unit opened the scoring as Drydn Dow flicked a shot towards goal from the blueline and it was deflected past Whistle by Fabrizio Ricci after two minutes of play.
Some great defensive work by Dundee forced a turnover and Dow collected the puck in the neutral zone. He went into the Sheffield end and took the puck around Ryan Martinelli before firing a shot off Whistle’s blocker and into the net in the seventh minute. Tom Barrasso opted to use his time-out after the second goal.
A few more penalties were called after Lukas Lundvald and Sheffield’s Anthony DeLuca were given minor penalties after an altercation behind the play.
The visitors went down to three skaters as Connor Cox was boxed for holding his opponents stick in the 12th minute. Robert Dowd nearly got Steelers on the board but his shot came off the crossbar.
Dundee netminder, Pontus Sjögren made numerous key saves before the penalties expired. The home side finally got on the board in the 14th minute, Jonas Westerling skated along the goal line before sending a pass off the stick blade of Matheson and the puck rebounded into the Stars net.
It was not long before Dundee responded with a second powerplay goal on the night, with Tanner Eberle in the box for tripping, Ricci made it 3-1 after 17 minutes. François Bouchard fired a shot off target and it rebounded to Matt Bissonnette, who played a smart pass in front to Ricci. His first shot was saved but he smartly lifted the rebound over a sprawled-out Whistle.
After an excellent start in the opening period, Pacha’s men failed to get the same jump in the second. Evan McGrath left the ice for treatment early in the session as the Yorkshire club went down a forward for a brief period of time.
The Steelers came close to scoring a second as a deflected pass fell to Eberle in the slot but the Dundee goalie closed him down and the shot went straight into his glove. Stars were then denied going the other way as Matt Bissonnette was on a two-on-one break with Bouchard. Bissonnette switched the play across to his teammate but the Sheffield goaltender made an unbelievable save on Bouchard’s shot.
Matt Marquardt was next to head to the box as Dundee went shorthanded again on a hooking call in the 28th minute. Sjögren came up with another big save to stop DeLuca after he weaved through the defence but the Swede stuck out a toe to end the chance.
Bissonnette was called for a late hit in the 36th minute and whilst on the powerplay the home side found their second goal. John Armstrong picked up a loose puck and flung it past Sjögren after 36 minutes, Dundee had a delayed penalty against them before the goal as Brian Hart tripped Ben O’Connor.
Hart’s penalty began after the goal but Stars seen out the two minutes. The Tayside team made it to the final break with a one-goal lead.
However, another tripping infraction, this time against captain Johan Andersson, left Dundee a man down in the 43rd minute. Sheffield equalised on the resulting powerplay as Sjögren made the first stop on McGrath’s shot before Martinelli netted on the rebound.
Bissonnette was back in the sin bin for tripping a few minutes later as it looked to get worse for Pacha’s men but Dowd was given an interference call late on in the Bissonnette minor and that ended what would be their final powerplay of the night. Aaron Johnson was then called for tripping 22 seconds later giving Stars a four-on-3 advantage.
Dundee were quick to take advantage as 15 seconds in, Marquardt blasted a shot from the left circle past whistle to make it 4-3 in the 48th minute. It got worse for the Steelmen as Martinelli was punished for sending the puck out of play in his own end.
Halfway through Martinelli’s minor, Dow released another troubling shot from the blue line and it deflected off Bouchard before slipping behind the Steelers netminder and across the line in the 51st minute.
A tense finish was set-up as the home side through all their firepower forward and pulled Whistle for the extra skater. A bad giveaway from Shawn Boutin nearly cost Stars as his pass was cut out in the Dundee end but Petr Chaloupka sacrificed his body to make a key block and win possession back. Bouchard sent Ricci forward and he was on a breakaway and easily tucked home his third goal of the night into an empty net, two minutes from time.
A final penalty for charging was given against McGrath in the final minute but the game was already won for Pacha’s team. A final score of 6-3 handed Stars their first ever win in Yorkshire and Omar Pacha his first win in Sheffield as a coach.
Jonathan Phillips and Dundee’s François Bouchard picked up the ‘Man of the Match’ awards.
Stars must now try to repeat their performance tomorrow as the fixture is reversed and they welcome to Sheffield to the DIA.