By Kris Smith
Dundee Stars dominated 46 minutes of a game against Manchester Storm before a controversial moment turned the match against them.
Dundee’s injury list had cleared up while Manchester travelled to Scotland without eight players.
Unsurprisingly, Stars looked the more comfortable team but Manchester found their feet after a few minutes. The first chance came to Mike Hammond as he edged ahead of the Dundee defence but Pontus Sjögren would not be beaten in the opening five minutes.
The home team had quite a few chances to open the scoring but the most dangerous chances were falling to Manchester. A Storm forward unexpectedly received the puck in front of the Stars goal but he could not react quick enough to get a shot off.
The attacker eventually corralled the puck and got a shot away but it was easily stopped by an alert Sjögren. In the second half of the opening period, the Stars continued to create more scoring opportunities but against the run of play, it was Manchester who broke the deadlock.
Harrison Ruopp patiently waited for an opening between the defences and released a quick wrist shot that beat the Dundee netminder at his far post in the 13th minute. The goal kicked the Tayside team into another gear and Charles Corcoran came close to drawing them level but his effort was stopped by a flashy glove save from Matt Ginn.
The first penalty came in the final two minutes of the first frame as Dundee’s Shawn Boutin was questionably called for a tripping foul. Omar Pacha’s Stars were doing all the right things but still their season long issue of finishing chances continued to haunt them.
Dundee continued a hungry performance in the second but it was still the road team who were getting the better of the chances. Kris Inglis and Logan MacMillan got caught up behind the play as the tensions between the two reached a boiling point.
The Pair dropped the gloves and Dundee’s Inglis got the crowd fired up as he got the better of the fight and his opponent. The Stars were causing a lot of turnovers but continuously failed to convert them.
Dundee’s first powerplay came when Evan Richardson caught Matt Bissonnette in the face with his stick in the 28th minute. However, the man advantage would not be capitalised on and the score remained 1-0.
Corcoran was again untouchable in the Manchester end but he would be denied by the glove of Ginn for a second time. Although, the American could only be suppressed by the Storm for so long. After 34 minutes of play Corcoran turned in a shot at the back post to get Stars back on level terms.
Straight from the restart, Dundee created another turnover and Fabrizio Ricci and Brian Hart had a 2-on-1 break but Ricci put a shot into the chest of Ginn and the opportunity was gone. Ryan Finnerty’s side were showing weakness at the back and if Dundee have a clinical finish, they would have been out of reach after two periods.
Both teams came out fighting in the third and each had a scary moment at the back but the game would remain level. Nothing had changed as the home team continued to win back possession when Manchester came forward.
The controversial moment of the season came when Matt Marquardt thought he had given Stars the lead. However, the Canadian’s first shot was saved but his second effort appeared to fly in and out of the top corner before the Storm went straight down the other end of the ice and scored.
A video review of Dundee’s goal seen referee’s Toby Craig and David Good confirm that Dundee did not score and that meant Ciaran Long’s goal would stand and give Manchester a 2-1 lead in the 47th minute.
Eight seconds after the lengthy stoppage, the Storm quickly put themselves in the driving seat, Luke Moffatt managed to slip the puck through the legs of Sjögren to double his team’s lead.
It went from bad to worse for Pacha’s men as Long added a second and Manchester’s fourth goal of the evening. Sjögren was caught outside his post and Long rounded the net to tuck home an easy finish in the 49th minute.
However, Dundee did not say die and quickly pulled one back. Defenceman, Shawn Boutin drove hard to the Manchester net and was able to flick a loose puck past Ginn on the 49-minute mark. The home side were pushing hard and came close to netting a third but Ginn was able to keep his team’s two goal cushion intact.
Inside the final two minutes, Dundee used their timeout and swapped Sjögren for an extra attacker but they could not find another way past the Storm before time ran out.
‘Man of the Match’ awards went to Ciaran Long and Dundee’s Charles Corcoran.
One controversial play has left the Stars playoff hopes in doubt but nothing is set in stone as Dundee face an uphill battle for the rest of the season.