By Kris Smith
The biggest game of Dundee Stars season so far unfolded at the DIA last night and seen Stars claim a huge 4-2 victory over Gardiner Conference rivals Edinburgh Capitals.
Anthony Mastrodicasa returned to the line-up for the first time in months and it was also a special occasion as it was the annual teddy toss charity night.
Less than a minute had been played before a 2-on-1 break gave Justin Fox the chance to put Dundee into the lead and he connected with Marc-Olivier Mimar’s pass to beat the spread-out Pavel Shegalo. Teddies then filled the ice to celebrate Dundee’s first goal, this annual charity event is in aid of Ninewells Children’s wards, TayFM Mission Christmas and Wave102 Help for Kids.
Stars had some good chances early on and Shegalo was repeatedly forced into action to keep the score at 1-0. It seemed like Dundee could not extend their lead as Gabriel Lévesque fired his shot off the pads of the Edinburgh keeper before Taylor Dickin hit the post in the fifth minute.
Travis Fullerton made a crucial save to keep Stars in front but after a quick regroup, Caps moved back into the zone and a pass to the wide open back door found Pavel Vorobyev and he easily levelled the score at 6:33. A delayed penalty against Caps then allowed Dundee to create some good chances but it was eventually blown dead.
Fox got another goal, this time on the powerplay, as his slapshot from the point flew past Shegalo at 8:27. Dundee were quickly back on the powerplay as Cazzola was penalised for slashing in tenth minute. It became a 5-on-3 situation as Edinburgh lost a second player, also on a slashing call but Omar Pacha’s men failed to capitalise on the two-man advantage.
The away team had some good opportunities before Fullerton had to jump up to make a save and the rebound dropped below him but the Canadian was quick to dive on top and get a whistle. After a quick review by referee Neil Wilson the decision of no goal stood.
Brian Hart extended Dundee’s lead to 3-1 before the end of the first after his shot hit the Caps netminder and sneaked across the line. The Caps picked up their first powerplay but the best they could do was hit the bar before time expired in the first period.
Early pressure form Stars helped kill off the remaining forty seconds of Edinburgh’s powerplay but shortly after the penalty expired Dmitri Khristich’s team hit the bar again, the puck deflected down before bouncing away from goal but the Caps came back again and this time hit the post.
Shegalo bailed out his side after a defensive error, he spread into the butterfly position to deny Jimmy Jensen of Stars fourth goal. At the other end a pile-up in front of Dundee goal causes an Edinburgh forward to miss a wide-open goal.
Dundee started to pile on the pressure again as Malcolm Gould rattled the bar before Fox went hunting for his hat-trick. He forced Shegalo to make multiple saves as the waves of
attacks from Dundee continued, Adam Harding tried a wrap-around but the Russian made another stop before batting away a powerful shot from the blueline.
Fox was then sent to the box for delay of game after his clearance left went over the glass but Dundee’s penalty kill continued to stonewall their opposition. Fox jumped out of the box and immediately created a chance for himself but he lost the puck as the Edinburgh defence surrounded him.
Rihards Grigors gave Dundee their fifth powerplay of the game as he was charged with hooking. Stars powerplay once again bombarded the Caps net but Shegalo did everything right to keep the score at 3-1 going into the final break.
Fullerton’s quick reactions denied a number of shots from the Caps as they tried to find a way back into this game, early in the third period. Dundee were working hard to get a fourth and get one step closer to putting the game to bed but all their hard work was yet to pay off.
Edinburgh would not go quietly and a stramash in front of Fullerton’s` net was eventually cleared away by the Dundee defence. Attacks from both teams were coming fast and furiously but both goalies refused to concede any more. Capitals got a strong chance to cut into Dundee’s lead as Emerson Hrynyk sat for two minutes on a slashing call but they once again killed off Edinburgh’s man advantage.
Just as Hrynyk was let out of the penalty box he got on the end of a long-range pass and went clean through on a breakaway but despite pulling a flashy move Shegalo got a piece if it and sent it flying in the air.
Gould put Dundee back on the penalty kill as he picked up a hooking penalty with four minutes remaining. Brian Hart almost made it 4-1 but his shot crept wide of the post.
However a quick shot by Igor Valeyev beat Fullerton from close range as Edinburgh clawed one back with just under three minutes to play. Dundee were not giving up their first conference points easily and a determined Justin Fox quickly restored their two-goal lead as well as bagging his hat-trick at 58:07 and that was enough to finish off the Caps.
Pavel Vorobyev and Dundee’s hat-trick hero Justin fox received the ‘Man of the Match awards.
Dundee picked up their first conference points after a huge home win as they will build off of the momentum from last night’s result and prepare to go into Sheffield with an almost impossible task at hand. They are 7-2 down with sixty minutes to rescue their hopes of playing in the Challenge Cup semi-finals.