By Kris Smith
Stars can make it seven straight wins in a row as they aim to add another team to the list of opponents defeated in the last three weeks.
Sheffield Steelers come to the DIA looking to snap the Kitmart Dundee Stars’ longest running win streak since 2010/11. The Yorkshire club did not play last night but Stars added more confidence to their game with a 5-2 thrashing over the Milton Keynes Lightning.
After falling 1-0 behind in the first period, goals from Lukas Lundvald and Drydn Dow put Stars ahead going into the final break. They built on a strong second period with a dominant third, Matt Bissonnette tapped in a rebound to make it 3-1 before Matt Marquardt blasted one in from a tight angle.
Dundee did not take their first penalty until the 50thminute but quickly seen out two minors before Milton Keynes pulled one back with the goalie pulled. With 14 second left in the game, Charles Corcoran raced onto the end of a lobbed pass and scored an empty net goal to round-off the scoring at 5-2.
Dundee moved up into eighth position after last night’s result and they can take sixth spot away from Sheffield with the right results on Sunday evening. Tom Barrasso’s men were defeated the last time they came to Scotland. Steelers were on the wrong side of a 5-2 score line last Wednesday in Glasgow.
Justin Buzzeo made it 4-1 halfway through the third period before 16 seconds later, Tanner Eberle reduced the Clan’s lead to two goals. Sheffield have not lost to Stars yet this season and are the only team to have shutout Omar Pacha’s side in the Elite League.
A 3-2 shootout loss is the closest Stars have come to beating the Steelmen but the English side won comfortably in the following two games, a 4-0 and a 6-1 win highlighted their dominance. Brian Hart, Marquardt and Shawn Boutin are the only Stars to have scored against Steelers this season and in three games, American forward, Hart has three points.
Josh Pitt leads Sheffield in points and has an average of one point per game. From 25 league matches, he has netted 13 goals and assisted on 12 goals. Lundvald still leads Dundee’s point scoring charts with 21 points (9+12) from 22 league games.
The Tayside team will still be a man short as Jordan Kelsall will remain out for the rest of the weekend with an upper body injury. Sheffield’s David Phillips, Brad Day, Eric Neiley and Robert Dowd all did not ice in Wednesday’s road game against Glasgow.
Stars defenceman Connor Cox has had a great start to his time in Dundee and has impressed in his first season of professional hockey. Reflecting on his season so far, the Canadian said: “I feel like I can always do better and there is not a game this year where I felt like it was the best game, I have played.
“So for myself, I think I need to work on my game moving forward and try to keep improving personally to help the team keep winning.”
After winning six games in a row, Omar Pacha’s dressing room has had an injection of positivity. Connor shared an insight into the locker room and how the team are feeling during this good run.
He added: “The atmosphere is great right now, guys are happy we are winning and are eager to continue winning, so overall it is very positive.”
When asked what has to continue for Dundee to keep stringing these victories together, Connor replied: “We need to continue doing the things that make us successful, like working hard and sticking to our game plan.
“As we continue to grow, we always work on limiting the small mistakes and as we continue to play, our goal is to try and eliminate as many mistakes as possible.”
Finally, “focus” will be key against the Steelers insists the 26-year old Alberta native. He said:“I think we just need to be prepared right from the start and not wait to see what kind of game they are playing but instead focus on how we have to play.
“We just need to be structurally sound and work hard like we have been doing.”
Speaking after last night’s 5-2-win, head coach Omar Pacha added: “I thought we came out strong in the first period and played well but we just could not get one.
“In the second, I felt we were a bit too passive, we were not that aggressive and we were losing a few battles.
“Lukas (Lundvald) scored a really nice goal and (Brian Hart) Hartsy did a great job getting to the net with Drydn (Dow) there and the third period again, was the best period.”
With a chance to climb the standings against Sheffield and make it seven wins in a row, Pacha added:
“We have to find away (to win) against them, we have to keep this going because it is a fun atmosphere and Sheffield are right above us in the standings, so hopefully we can move above them.”
Tonight’s game faces-off at 5pm and it is also the annual Teddy Toss, so bring you teddies along and throw them onto the ice after the first Dundee Stars goal.