By Kris Smith
Fans from all four Scottish teams gathered at Murrayfield for the first game in the inaugural 2017 Scottish Elite Cup, Dundee met their ‘Auld Rivals’ the Fife Flyers in the first of Saturday’s Semi-Finals.
Fife were missing two forwards as Sean Beattie and Shayne Stockton were out due to injury problems, Dundee were in a similar position as Kris Ingils and Emerson Hrynyk did not ice.
The game got underway and Dundee had the early pressure on the Fife defence, when Fife regained control, it was Chase Schaber who was to take the game’s first shot and his effort was met by the blocker of Travis Fullerton. Jordan Cownie broke down the ice off the back of a turnover in the Stars end and found himself behind the Flyers net, he sent a pass out in front but no one could collect.
The action started to go back forth then James Isaacs drove the puck deep into the Stars end but could create no opportunities to score. A Carlo Finucci interception gave Fife an opportunity for a fast break and he delivered a hard slapshot which got lost in Fullerton’s pads.
A Russ Moyer wrist shot was deflected wide by Schaber before the rebound was frozen by the Stars netminder, Liam Heelis was next to try and put the Flyers ahead but he fired wide after three minutes. Isaacs had driven deep into the Stars end once again and sent a pass across the crease but a tied-up Finucci couldn’t get anything on it.
Danick Gauthier shot from point blank range but Fullerton denied, Dundee broke clear down the other end but an intercepted pass by Schaber sent Gauthier through again, he fired into Fullerton’s five-hole and it just trickled through his legs and across the line at 4:56. Fife were at it again as a high wrist shot came in from the outside, Fullerton met it with his blocker before it dropped and was loose underneath him, the Stars defence wasted no time in clearing it away.
Dundee eventually got the chance to test Andy Iles in the Fife net as Adam Harding’s shot was saved and turned into the crowd. The Flyers had another chance when they broke into the zone and a Schaber pass intended for Gauthier got caught in the legs of Fullerton and it slid into the Stars net at 7:31.
Omar Pacha’s men needed a response and Malcolm Gould gave them one when he rattled a wrist shot off the crossbar, immediately after the restart. Marc-Oliver Mimar nearly scored on his debut when he redirected a shot but it went millimetres wide of the post.
The ten minute mark had not long past when Ian Young’s Slapshot landed behind the Stars goal and Carlo Finucci fired a wrist shot off the rebound but Fullerton raised his trapper to deny him. Dundee were then given the first powerplay of the game when Chase Schaber was penalised two minutes for Holding by Toby Craig.
Jimmy Jensen tipped an Anthony Mastrodicasa shot wide before Mastrodicasa let another rip but it was gloved by Iles, Fifes luck was running out as Charlie Mosey could not jam a shot past Fullerton before Riley Stadel stepped in to tie him up. Fife then had their chance on the powerplay, as Joey De Concilys wemt to the box for a tripping infraction at 12:20.
A Liam Heelis shot was met by the pads of Fullerton, Travis then went on to make a triple save, denying three shots all from point blank range. The penalty was killed as the Dundee
goalie denied a fifth attempt with his blocker. Dundee had a chance as one of the forwards tried a wraparound but could not beat the Flyers goalie to the far post. The Stars had built some pressure as Chris Lawrence tipped a Cam McGiffin shot wide before McGiffin lined up a second attempt that found its way into the chest of Andy Iles.
Fife started to take the physical play to Dundee and neither team was able to get a clean shot off for over two minutes. Malcolm Gould had the chance to give Dundee a lift before the break as he fired high over the net from the back door.
Dundee found another chance when Fife lost a man after a Delay of game minor was called against Heelis. Ian Young tried to block a speeding Jensen but the Swede ploughed straight through. Two bits of ‘Puck luck’ put the opposition ahead but Dundee needed to find a way to break down Todd Dutiame’s defences.
Dundee started with the man advantage and a well worked move seen Tyler Brickler denied early on. Jimmy Jensen was then penalised for boarding, this made it 4-on-4 before a Flyers powerplay and this had no effect on Gould who skated quickly through the middle and received a pass at the blue line before releasing a fast shot, high and to the right of Iles, who managed to get across and save it.
Dundee went back on the powerplay when Ian Young was called at 23:21 for holding-the-stick and sat for two minutes. Gabriel Lévesque sent his Slapshot wide before losing sight of a puck in mid-air that landed sweetly for a Flyer who shot down the ice on a breakaway, He tried to tuck the puck past Fullerton but Travis was down in the butterfly and got a pad to it.
The Stars were back on the powerplay after Evan Bloodoff sent the puck into the stands and was charged with delay of game at 25:22. Joey De Concilys shot the puck goalward and Brickler got the tip but it took a huge bounce before going wide, an intelligent block form Mosey denied Dundee of what would be a sure goal, he deflected it away from the waiting Gould who could finish into a gaping net.
Gould was determined to break the clean sheet of the Flyers netminder but found both his efforts, high and low, saved and his third attempt bounced off the pads of Iles. Fife started to come back into the game at the twenty-ninth minute. Fullerton made a blocker save in one end before Lévesque’s shot was redirected past Andy Iles by Chris Lawrence for his debut goal at 31:09.
However the Flyers came straight back to make it 1-3, Liam Heelis fired one past Fullerton, unassisted. Dundee tried to do the same but Brickler could only find the side netting of the away goal. The Stars were building pressure as they kept the puck in the Fife zone, McGiffin found a shooting lane but his effort was gloved.
Jimmy Jensen was next to be denied as the pressure looked like it was going to start breaking the Flyers a loose puck bounced in front of Iles who quickly covered. At the other end, Ricards Birzins shot the puck toward an open net but it ended up trapped under a sprawling Fullerton, Evan Bloodoff then had a chance to put the Flyers 4-1 ahead, but sent a shot that was just two yards out, miles over the bar.
Mastrodicasa went to the box with just 1:35 left in the second period, on an interference call. The game went back to a 4-on-4 situation when Bloodoff was penalised for slashing with 1.9 seconds on the clock. Dundee won the face-off but were unable to get the puck in the net
before the buzzer sounded. No team took control in the second period, however Dundee had put pressure on Fife and tried to crack them but the Flyers stood strong.
Dundee would go on a powerplay after Mastrodicasa’s penalty expired, and seconds after it expired Carlo Finucci went around the back of the Stars net and wrapped the puck in around the post, to bag a shorthanded goal and Fife’s fourth of the evening at 40:29. A Mastrodicasa shot hit off the skate of Mimar and straight into the pads of Iles, who froze the play, as he continued to frustrate the Stars offence. Dundee created a few good chances, the main ones being Dickin missing the target and again from the backdoor.
It was then the Stars turn to sit in the box for a delay of game penalty, which was served by Mastrodicasa at 43:00. Fife took full advantage of this as a high rebound flies through the air for Danick Gauthier to bat in at 43:15 for the first powerplay goal of the game. Things got heated as Chris Lawrence was first to be called on a roughing penalty at 44:15, once he was released he was sent straight back after delivering a big hit and for his troubles was given a 2+10 check to the head penalty at 46:27. As play continued Fife tried to put the game out of reach of Dundee, Heelis unloaded a rapid slapshot but was beaten by a sliding Fullerton.
Riley Stadel and Evan Bloodoff took exception to each other and wanted to get physical but the linesmen had stepped in and they both sat for two minutes on roughing calls at 47:29. Stars still played with fight and passion but couldn’t get anything past Iles, the puck was all over the Flyers zone and after a full minute Iles covered up.
Jordan Cownie was called on a tripping infraction at 50:42 and it didn’t look good for Dundee, they killed the penalty but started to look out of the game. The more the Flyers relaxed the slower the game got. Suddenly out of nowhere Johan Andersson connected with a moving puck and smashed it into the back of the net at 54:01.
Dundee came alive again, Lévesque fired a slapshot that was tipped just over and suddenly all the momentum fell to the Stars. Dundee seemed determined to get another, however a skilled play by Russ Moyer gave him a clean break, as he avoided the sliding poke check, pulled it to his backhand and went top shelf past Fullerton. That guaranteed the result and both teams fate was sealed.
FINAL: Dundee Stars 2-6 Fife Flyers
Dundee returned to Murrayfield after Saturday’s 6-2 defeat at the hands of the Fife Flyers, they would face hosts, Edinburgh, who lost to Braehead in the second semi-final. The Stars were competing for third place but used this last preseason game to test new systems and ice some under 23’s, Craig Holland was given the start in net.
Chris Lawrence won the opening draw for Dundee and that set the tone as Dundee would be the controlling side in the first stanza. Joey De Concilys shut down Denis Trakhanov along the boards and that was the first of many physical plays to come. Tyler Brickler was the creator of the game’s first chance as he sent a pass De Concilys who returned it to Brickler, who then found Gould in front of the crease but he could not beat Pavel Shegalo.
Edinburgh finally got into the Dundee end and were circling but struggled to find a shooting opportunity, Kris Inglis stepped in to break up the play, but the Caps got back into the zone and Juris Upitis found a lane but Craig Holland blocked it with ease.
Jordan Cownie had an opportunity to give the Stars a lead, as he tried to deflect a puck into the goal by passing it off the skate of an Edinburgh defenceman, to no success. The first five minutes concluded with the Caps missing the target twice.
Kris Ingils shot was next to miss the target after hitting another player as he shot through traffic. The next phase of play set-up Malcolm Gould to score into an open net but he fanned on the shot. Meanwhile at the other end, Holland saved the first effort the Caps threw at him but the rebound was loose in front, but Sheepdog quickly reacted and cleared it with his stick.
Taylor Dickin missed a crucial chance when he fired high and wide past a scrambling Caps netminder and defence, Mike Cazzola found the same fate when a quick pass found him in front of the Stars net. Dundee were the first team to get on the powerplay at 8:05 as Alexander Islamov was punished for holding.
Edinburgh had an attempt that was turned wide by Holland before Chris Lawrence called for the puck at the slot and fired a high wrist shot, that Shegalo saved, Cownie could not connect with the rebound and the powerplay ended.
The Stars goalie then deflected Duncan Speirs shot wide, Dundee created an attack and moved forward into the Caps zone but Johan Andersson’s shot was gloved by Shegalo. The second half of the first period revealed the rocket of a slapshot possessed by Anthony Mastrodicasa, who fired high over the net.
Edinburgh rushed to the crease, to shoot a loose puck past Holland but after a few chances the Stars Defence cleared their lines. Denis Trakhanov redirected a shot but it found its way up to the safety net, Rihards Grigors then tried a wrister but it was caught by Holland and he covered up the rebound, after Grigors second shot was blocked.
Chris Lawrence fired a shot off the mask of Shegalo, who would of been thankful as it was on target and goal-bound. The Caps went close once more as Igor Valeyev could not turn a
pass towards the gaping Stars net, back at the other end Jimmy Jensen shot across goal but the hosts goalie got a leg to it.
With just four minutes left, Taylor Dickin almost opened the scoring but Shegalo got the smallest of touches on the puck to send it wide. Upitis was penalised for two minutes on a hooking infraction at 17:43.
Two slapshots from Gabriel Lévesque and Mastrodicasa were both saved but a tip in front of net on a Malcom Gould pass led to a scramble to get the puck past Shegalo but referee Toby Craig waived it off and after a review, the call was still no goal. Stars has good pressure in the first period and some dominance but the Caps kept it scoreless.
The second period started off with both teams going back and forth then Malcolm Gould broke out the zone with a teammate but his shot deflected off the pads of Shegalo and into the boards. Juris Upitis was a threat to the Dundee goal once again but Riley Stadel redirected his shot into the roof.
A quick cut back by Taylor Dickin to Lévesque gave Stars a golden opportunity but he missed the puck and Holland made a huge save at the other end to keep the score at 0-0. Dundee went back on the powerplay as Taylor Stefishen was called for holding at 24:45, They failed to punish Dmitri Khristich’s team but four seconds after the powerplay ended (26:49), Mike Cazzola capitalised on a mistake by Lévesque, he broke away and went five-hole on Sheepdog to give the home side the lead.
Craig Holland was given a two minute penalty for tripping when a Caps player skated through his crease and hit the ice, at 28:20. A shorthanded, Adam Harding wrist shot was gloved before Craig Holland stopped a Caps attack with his shoulder. Dundee went down to three skaters at 29:02 when Tyler Brickler was given a 2+10 for a check to the head, both fans and Tyler were curious to the call. The Caps had good chances on the powerplay but Dundee killed it off.
Jimmy Jensen had his effort stopped by the stick of Shegalo. Then a Caps player tried to block the path of Mimar but the giant continued through with no hindrance, Stars were regaining control of the game as Patrick Lee seen his shot denied.
As Dundee set-up an attack in the Edinburgh end, a failed slapshot by Cameron McGiffin gave Sergei Banashkov a breakaway and he fired high over the right shoulder of Holland to make it 2-0 to the hosts at 33:12.
Just over a minute later Caps were on the powerplay as Gabriel Lévesque went to the box on a hooking minor at 34:22. A loose puck in front of the Stars goal was almost cleared by Holland who lunged forward with his stick to poke it away but it fell straight to Mike D’Orazio who sent it straight back past Holland for a 3-0 lead and a powerplay goal.
Edinburgh were given another advantage when Toby Craig deemed Malcolm Gould to be guilty of slew-footing, which he received a match penalty for at 36:30, Caps had little time on the powerplay before it became a four-on-four situation as Stefishen went to sit for a Cross-checking minor at 37:48 and then it was powerplay for Dundee as Denis Trakhanov was given two minutes for holding at 38:55. The best chance of the short powerplay came when Jimmy Jensen was denied by the bars of Shegalo’s mask.
Dundee lost their man advantage but killed the five minute powerplay with no goals scored in that time. The third period seen both sides miss great chances with Stars looking the better of the two. A quick play by all five Dundee skaters put the Caps in danger of losing their shutout but Shegalo managed to cover the puck.
The first five minutes was all end-to-end action and it was in the Dundee end that Mike Cazzola batted a puck out of mid-air but could not beat the Stars netminder. Taylor Stefishen then fell over when taking a shot which gave Dundee a good break, Mastrodicasa played the pluck around the boards for Dickin who’s slap-pass did not find its intendent recipient.
Jordan Cownie went to box on a slashing call at 47:27, this led to a shorthanded chance for Taylor Dickin who was in a huge open space and was gifted the puck by Shegalo who dived back across his net to stop a slapshot by Dickin, which seemed inevitably a goal.
Dundee killed the penalty and Riley Stadel broke down the ice with a teammate who he slid a pass to but he could not finish the play and were unlucky when the rebound came out behind Stadel.
A Caps player took a hard hit in the corner of the Dundee end and slowly but under his own power got up and made his way to the bench, with what appeared to be a back injury. After the restart, Dylan Anderson went one-on-one with Lévesque but could not get the puck past Holland. The Caps got their sixth powerplay of the evening when Jimmy Jensen was given a two minute minor for slashing at 52:03.
This would really up the tempo and physicality of the game as things got heated, the penalty was killed and Dundee fired a slapshot from their own blueline and it was on target as Shegalo strongly stopped it with just three minutes remaining.
No ‘Puck Luck’ is the best way to describe Dundee’s weekend and they were not gifted any in the last few moments either. Jensen went back to the box at 54:44 on an elbowing charge but once again Dundee killed the penalty, D’Orazio sawt revenge on Jensen after he was floored by the Swede. The Caps D-man boarded Jensen and took his place in the box for two minutes at 58:50.
Dundee were desperately trying to stop the shutout but with just fifteen seconds left Shegalo denied another of Mastrodicasa’s rockets and that sealed the win and the shutout for the hosts.
FINAL: Edinburgh Capitals 3-0 Dundee Stars
Dundee head to Belfast on Saturday night and return home to face Fife on Sunday, both in Challenge Cup games, tickets for home games can be purchased form the DIA box office or the website.