By Kris Smith
Stars chose to rest most of their key players in last night’s 4-2 loss in the second leg of the league cup quarter-finals.
Both back-ups netminders were given the start by Belfast and Dundee, as Stephen Murphy and Craig Holland took their place between the pipes. Youngsters Craig Garrigan and Jordan Kelsall were handed a spot in the starting line-up alongside captain, Johan Andersson. Kris Inglis was the only Stars not to ice.
It was a slow start to the game with Holland making his first save on a shot from Dustin Johner after three minutes. Inside the fifth minute, Belfast’s Blair Riley dropped a pass to Guillaume Gélinas and his slapshot flew into the top of Holland’s net, giving Belfast the lead.
Stars got a few shots on Stephen Murphy before Darcy Murphy deked the puck around the Stars goalie and finished into the net in the eighth minute. Less than two minutes later, Francis Beauvillier collected his own rebound and put the puck in the goal, just before the 10-minute mark.
Adam Keefe’s men were not letting up and made it 4-0 through Josh Roach. Stars had a powerplay when Darcy Murphy was called for interference in the 16thminute. They got on the board after, Matt Marquardt played the puck to Connor Cox and his shot from the blueline deflected off of Matt Bissonnette. The deflection was enough to send the puck bouncing under the Giants goalie after 16 minutes.
The second period seen Dundee take their first penalty as Petr Chaloupka was called in the 29th minute for a hooking infraction. Omar Pacha’s men killed off the penalty and remained 4-1 down after the halfway mark. Holland made numerous saves to keep out one effort from a hungry Giant, who was digging for rebounds in the Stars crease.
Dundee made it 4-2 in the 38thminute as Fabrizio Ricci’s shot was tipped past Stephen Murphy by Marquardt. With 30 seconds left on the clock in the middle period, Chaloupka returned to the box for roughing.
The Giants decided to change goaltender in the third period as Andrew Dickson replaced Stephen Murphy. Holland kept out a good shot from Beauvillier before the powerplay expired.
Jonathan Ferland was next to head into the sin bin as he was penalised for interference in the 52ndminute. However, Stars were not able to make it 4-3 before Ferland was released from the box. Time ran out before either side could find the net again and the home side won the tie 12-2.
Belfast will advance to the Challenge Cup semi-finals and continue their title defence as Stars can now fully focus on maintaining their position in the play-off spots.