By Kris Smith
Stars were burnt twice by the Flames this weekend as their comeback efforts were held off both times, despite showing real determination.
The Kitmart Dundee Stars were boosted by the return of Matt Marquardt to their line-up while Petr Chaloupka and Matt Bissonnette still missed out. Guildford were still without Brett Ferguson and Kevin Phillips. Ex-Star, Travis Fullerton was left out the squad after backstopping the Flames to their 6-5 win over Dundee last night, meaning Chris Carrozzi started in nets.
Stars continued their trend of starting slow and with no real scoring chances early on, the first came when the Flames were called for having too-many men on the ice in the third minute.
Dundee’s powerplay woes continued as they failed to get off the mark while on the man advantage. A few minutes after Guildford returned to full-strength, John Dunbar’s persistence paid off as he led waves of attacks into the Stars end. Dunbar skated the puck deep into the offensive zone before sending a pass to Ian Watters, who had ghosted in front of the Dundee net, his backhanded shot beat Pontus Sjögren down low in the seventh minute.
Omar Pacha’s men struggled to grab control of the game after conceding but despite creating some good chances and they were given another chance on the powerplay after François Bouchard was caught in the face by the stick of Evan Ritt.
Dundee were unable to get set-up in the Flames end as their opponents shut them down well and as the penalty expired, Evan Janssen put his side straight back on the penalty kill after he hooked Jordan Cownie in the 16th minute. Stars failed to cause any trouble for Carrozzi and his defence as again the penalty was killed off, although they applied some late pressure in the final minute of the first period.
Guildford were gifted a chance to double their lead as Fabrizio Ricci was boxed for high-stick inside the first minute of the second period, but the Stars penalty kill continued their good start to the season and seen the Flames off.
Penalties were a constant theme in the second period with the home side given their fourth opportunity on the powerplay after Bouchard took another stick to the face, this time by Kruise Reddick.
Finally, the Stars built up some pressure on the powerplay but still could not trouble Carrozzi, the closest they came was when Charlie Corcoran fired his shot over the top of the Guildford net. Shortly after Paul Dixon’s men returned to full-strength, Watters was denied of his second goal of the night.
Eric Lindhagen sacrificed his body to prevent Stars from tying the score at the mid-way point. Dunbar and Dundee’s Drydn Dow exchanged slashes behind the play which left both players in the sin bin and both teams reduced to four skaters in the 31st minute.
A few minutes later, Lukas Lundvald and Watters were both penalised, keeping the teams at four-on-four for another two minutes, Lundvald was also given a 10-minute misconduct for a boarding penalty. Dundee found their rhythm and were starting to come alive, which boosted their chances of scoring when Jordan Abt was called for interference in the 34th minute, leaving Stars on their fifth powerplay of the night.
Marquardt had the biggest chance but he sent his shot over the bar and was at it again after the penalty had been killed, the Stars forward tried to round the goalie before going for a wraparound but failed in his attempt with four minutes left in the second period.
Dundee were shorthanded again in the final minute of the second stanza as Dow was called for an illegal equipment penalty. Calle Ackered caused alarm for Dundee’s defence but missed both his chances before forcing crucial saves from Sjögren as the danger was still present in the final seconds for Dundee.
Pacha’s side killed off the time remaining on Dow’s penalty to start the third and keep the Flames to just a single goal lead. Both teams began to create key chances as the action went from end-to-end. Ricci played in Corcoran but he was denied before Reddick fed the puck to Ackered, only for his shot to be gloved by Sjögren.
Lundvald almost drew Dundee level when his first effort was saved and after following-up on his own rebound, he was stopped again by Carrozzi. Stars were back on the powerplay after Janssen received a misconduct and minor penalty for checking from behind in the 50th minute and 25 seconds later, Cownie tucked home the equaliser.
Good side-to-side movement by Stars created the opening for Cownie, it came from a slap pass by Lundvald to Connor Cox, who then played it back across to the waiting Cownie at the open back door. Watters reacted to the goal by shoving Cownie to the floor which drew a reaction from the Stars and resulted in Cox, Lundvald and Watters all heading to the penalty box for minor penalties.
Pacha was not pleased to see his men in the box after stepping up to defend their teammate but the game got back underway and the intensity was high. A big chance for Guildford went amiss thanks to a quick recovery by the Stars defence but Dundee would not be out of trouble as Marquardt found himself in the box for slashing in the 52nd minute.
Reddick fired his shot straight over the shoulder of the Dundee goalie, just 34 seconds into the powerplay and it got even worse for Stars as 16 seconds later Jamie Crooks picked out the top corner to make it 3-1 inside the 53rd minute.
However, the home team had a quick answer as Brian Hart got the puck into the attacking zone and cut it back to the trailing Marquardt and he buried it past Carrozzi less than a minute later.
Dow had a massive chance to tie the game but he shot wide from directly in front before Dunbar broke away alone in the Stars end but was denied by tip of Sjögren’s glove. The match came down to the final two minutes when a delay of game against Joshua Waller left Dundee on all-out attack, they used their timeout and substituted their goalie for an extra attacker. However, they could not find a game-tying-goal before Ritt won the puck in his defensive end and skated up to finish into the empty net with 16 on the clock.
Guildford claimed all four points from the weekend, leaving Stars with just a single point from this week’s three matches. Netminder, Chris Carrozzi and Dundee’s Connor Cox were presented with the ‘Man of the Match’ awards.
Pacha’s side have a full week off before travelling to Wales to face the reigning champions, Cardiff Devils again. They return to Tayside to take on their Scottish rivals, Glasgow Clan on Sunday.