By Kris Smith
Dundee arrived in Belfast knowing they were going into a massive game without Malcolm Gould who was serving a one-match ban for slew-footing and also Travis Fullerton who was unable to ice due to illness.
Dundee had the early pressure and a Riley Stadel shot was saved early into the second minute of play, Blair Riley’s shot was then saved at the other end saved by Craig Holland, however a quick break from Dustin Johner gave the Giants an early chance, a pass across the front of goal came off the skate of Emerson Hrynyk and into the net, to give the home side an early lead at 1:50.
Johan Andersson’s shot was saved inside the first three minutes, before a Belfast shot was tipped wide of Holland’s net by Colin Shields. Both teams started playing the physical game and from this Dundee got their first powerplay of the night after Martinelli was penalised for holding at 7:35.
Chris Lawrence broke into the Giants end and weaved through their defence, dropped the shoulder but Jackson whistle was equal to it, and he saved the second effort before it was cleared away. Whistle then had to go post to post on another chance but the Stars player fired high over the open net.
Jim Vandermeer’s shot from the point was denied by Holland before Sébastien Sylvestre made it 2-0 to Adam Keefe’s Giants, he broke down the wing with speed, dragged the puck around the Dundee defenceman and went high over the shoulder of Holland at 10:37. A penalty was called on Chris Lawrence at 11:02 for elbowing and the Giants got their first powerplay, both of Belfast’s attacks were shut down and the puck was cleared.
The Giants used their speed to create opportunities but the shooting lanes were clogged and Stars cleared again, Dustin Johner was waiting on the back-post but fired wide of the net, Dundee killed the penalty only to go back on the penalty kill. Chris Lawrence was again punished this time on a roughing minor at 14:41. The Giants held the puck up and put pressure on the Stars before Steve Saviano received a pass and from just six yards out he fired high past Holland. Belfast looked comfortable with a 3-0 lead and took it into the dressing room, where Omar Pacha needed to shake up things for his side.
The puck dropped and after just thirteen seconds a penalty was called against Jimmy Jensen, to his bemusement he was given a boarding call and sat for two minutes. Dundee had kept the Giants powerplay to the outside but just as they looked neutralised, out of nowhere Darcy Murphy popped up and put the puck in the net at 17:27.
The Stars looked out their depth against a quick Giants side who move the puck with real pace up and down the ice, but a penalty against Matt Towe for Tripping at 23:51 gave them a lifeline. Dundee used the powerplay to build pressure but Whistle denied two strong efforts from the powerplay unit.
Just as Belfast tried to clear the puck it was picked off, a pass to Joey De Concilys gave Dundee the advantage, he passed it in front of goal to a waiting Jensen and Marc-Oliver
Mimar who scrambled to finish the job and it was Jensen who was credited with the fatal touch that destroyed Jackson Whistle’s dreams of a clean sheet.
The Stars stopped a great attack and broke away down the other end of the ice and were denied twice by the Belfast goalie, They got another powerplay when referee Pavel Halas penalised Ryan Martinelli for Hooking at 28:19. Dundee could not set-up in the Giants end and eventually got a shot away but it was easily covered by Whistle.
Just as Omar Pacha’s men were coming back into things, they got another goal to make it 4-2. A Riley Stadel slapshot got lost inside Whistle but Adam Harding had his eye on the puck and poked it home at 31:49. The Giants went back on the powerplay as Joey De Concilys was given a four-minute double minor for accidental high-sticks at 31:58.
Dundee dealt with the Giants attack and created a 2-on-2 move and fired high to the shoulder of Whistle but could only find the side netting. Spiro Goulakos released a shot low along the ice but it went through everyone and wide of the goal.
Belfast got a 5-on-3 opportunity when Anthony Mastrodicasa was penalised for slashing at 34:52, giving the home-side over a minute on the two-man advantage. Craig Holland made a huge save when he went post-to-post to deny one Giant before it fell to another, Brendan Connolly, who had more than half an empty net to score into, he did not miss and it was 5-2 to Belfast at 35:16.
The game took a turn as it became a 4-on4 situation, when Brendan Connolly was sent to the box for holding at 35:57. Dundee started to build a strong attack, the puck was passed to Lawrence who rifled a snapshot into the chest of Whistle and a loose puck created a scramble. Ryan Martinelli came in and checked Lawrence from behind and was assessed a two-minute cross-checking penalty at 37:14.
Dundee had their turn on the 5-on-3 powerplay and created a very good move, passing it tape-to-tape, it came to Lawrence who found Andersson at the backdoor to fire into an empty net for a powerplay goal and bringing the lead back to two goals at 5-3. Colin Shields wound up a rocket of a slapshot but Craig Holland found no difficulty in holding it. Dundee went back to the dressing room after forty minutes and would have been happy with their progress.
The third period was Dundee’s chance to take control of the game and get it tied up. However with another early penalty just thirty-three seconds in to play, Darcy Murphy was charged with cross-checking and Dundee were on the powerplay again. They had a bunch of chances but could produce no positive results as Whistle had to dive across his net to deny a wide shot from the left.
Craig Holland performed similar antics as he pushed off his left post rapidly to deny a sniper shot from Colin shields. Marc-Oliver Mimar was then punished for slashing at 46:47 and that gave Adam Keefe’s side another goal, the Giants had set-up camp in the Dundee end before passing around all five players and it ended with Jonathan Ferland slotting it home into an empty net from the backdoor at 47:03 on the powerplay.
Holland denied another powerful shot this time from Blair Riley with just nine minutes remaining on the clock, although he could not keep out John Kurtz’s effort as he was also found at the backdoor after strong passing around the zone by Belfast at 51:47.
Dundee looked down and out at 7-3 but they started to get fired up and feisty, hungry for that next goal. Holland kept his side in the game, first denying a shot with the tip of his glove on a Giants break and second after another good passing move around the zone he froze the puck.
Omar Pacha’s men got the goal they needed when Mastrodicasa was found behind the net, he sent a pass out in front and De Concilys shot over the sprawling Whistle at 57:40. That was the last scoring chance as Belfast tried to see-out the remaining few minutes and that they did.
Gabriel Lévesque was awarded the ‘Man of the Match award for Dundee after a standout performance and assisting two of the goals. Dundee return home to face the Fife Flyers tomorrow, Travis Fullerton is expected to return to action and Malcolm Gould has now completed his suspension. Face-off is at 18:30 and tickets are still available at the DIA box office and online.
FINAL: Belfast Giants 7-4 Dundee Stars