By Kris Smith
Stars face their oldest rivals, Fife Flyers, again this weekend as the two teams on opposite sides of the Tay face-off in a double header.
Dundee travel to Kirkcaldy on Saturday night as they look to turn their luck around after coming so close to taking a point in Belfast on Wednesday night. Omar Pacha’s men were robbed of a point after a late powerplay goal by the Giants sealed the victory.
Stars have now lost four games in a row with their last win coming two weeks ago against Edinburgh. They have faced a bunch of tough games in February and their schedule doesn’t get any easier as they prepare for a double-header with the current Gardiner Conference leaders.
Todd Dutiaume’s men rescued two points against Edinburgh Capitals last Sunday with a 3-0 away victory after losing 3-2 to Coventry Blaze in Fife on the Saturday. So far, Flyers have won only two of their five games in February.
Stars have had a good run against Flyers in 2018 winning four of the six previous meetings against their ‘Auld Rivals’, with Dundee winning all their home games.
Fife claimed two 5-1 victories in Kirkcaldy but lost 7-6 on a shootout after Dundee pulled off a remarkable comeback from 5-2 down to take the lead 6-5 before Flyers took the game into overtime then a shootout. Malcolm Gould’s penalty shot sealed Stars first win in Kirkcaldy this year.
The DIA has been a fortress as of late for Dundee as they have recorded 7-5 and 4-2 wins plus most recently, a 4-3 overtime win over their rivals.
Fife announced the signing of 26-year-old Canadian forward Dan Correale on Thursday evening. Following his departure from Iisalmen Peli-Karhut in the Finnish Mestis league, he joins the Flyers on a temporary basis to help cover the current injury problems.
Jimmy Jensen has been on target for the Stars against Fife this season putting 6 goals past Andy Iles and assisting on 3 of Dundee’s goals. His totals for the year stand at 12 goals plus 13 assists. Liam Heelis has done the same for Fife, scoring 4 goals against Travis Fullerton and assisting on 5. His totals for this campaign are 14 goals plus 33 assists.
Evan Bloodoff has scored the most goals for Dutiaume’s side with 27 this season, while Brian Hart leads Dundee with 15 goals this year.
Flyers were without Reece Cochrane, Evan Bloodoff, Russ Moyer and Brady Ramsay in the 3-0 win over Edinburgh on Sunday and it is unknown if any will feature against Dundee in the double-header. Riley Stadel and Johan Andersson will miss out for Stars this weekend.
Fife started the weekend with 6-3 win over Braehead on Friday and that gives Stars their three games in hand advantage over Braehead back as Dundee continue their playoff push.
Anthony Mastrodicasa believes his team are playing good hockey and that will be the difference between them and the Flyers. He said: “Last week was disappointing to say the least but we have been playing good hockey, any one of those games could have went our way.
“At this point in our season we’re playing great hockey which makes us confident going into the weekend.
When asked about how to continue their good results over in Fife, he added: “I think we just need to keep playing our game, stick to the system and try and stay out of the box because we know we can play with any team five-on-five.
“Fife are a good team but we have struggled against them when we weren’t playing good hockey and battling injuries.
“Usually in those games, if we make mistakes they capitalised on it and it made it harder for us to come back.
“It’s pretty obvious if we don’t string together a lot of wins and points with the season running out of time we give ourselves no chance of making the playoffs so every game is crucial to win.
“Every single guy on the team knows the goal which is to make the playoffs and you can tell with our play so far in 2018 that we want it and we’re going to play every game coming forward to win.”
Stars head coach, Omar Pacha seen this weekend as another opportunity for his side to “bring it” against another tough opponent. He said: “It’s been a tough week, we played some decent hockey and there was some game changing moments against Braehead that were uncontrollable because of the decisions by the referees.
“Then the other night I think the better team lost, it was unfortunate and five-on-five, I think we took it to Belfast.
“It is one of the first times as a coach I can confidently say we outplayed Belfast five-on-five and we deserved to win, it’s tough and doesn’t make it any easier against fife but there are positives to take into the weekend.
“We have got to keep moving, it is important to stay out of the box, when we had success winning nine out of ten games this year, it was because we managed to stay out the box and if we stay disciplined I am confident we will be fine.
“We won once in Fife, so there is no reason why we cannot do it again, it is a tough barn to play in and we are going to have to bring it to them and in the same mindset we had in Belfast but with a bit more of a killer instinct on the power play and five-on-five”.
Saturday’s game in Kirkcaldy faces-off at 7:15pm.