The Trade-Mart Dundee Stars look to kick off their weekend with an ice home win over the Manchester Storm tonight as they try to boost their playoff hopes.
By Kris Smith
The Stars lost both of their games last week, but have a great chance to climb back up the rankings after sitting bottom of the table for the past four weeks.
They welcome the Manchester Storm to Tayside tonight for their final meeting with the Altrincham side and have beaten them just once so far this season, but have yet to lose in regulation at home to the Storm. .
Matt Ginn’s men claimed a 3-2 win in Manchester last Saturday, but had lost 3-1 in Dundee two weeks earlier and picked up a 5-4 victory after extra time on their first trip to the Dundee Ice Arena.
Carter Folk gave the Stars an early lead in the Storm Shelter last week when he scored his seventh goal of the season, before Anthony DeLuca equalized for the home team.
Ben Sokay then restored Dundee’s lead, only for DeLuca to get a second equalizer and his teammate, Tyson Fawcett, quickly shot Manchester into their first lead of the night and they would hold on to that narrow lead.
Coming off a 4-1 defeat against Cardiff Devils on Sunday, the stars have remained bottom of the league table on 24 points and sit five points out of a playoff spot.
However, both ninth-placed Glasgow Clan and eighth-placed Fife Flyers are on 29 points but have played six and three more games than Dundee respectively, meaning the Stars can string together some instant wins. they will return to the mix.
The Stars are likely down just one player this weekend as Swedish striker Romans Semjonovs is still sidelined with a lower body injury.
Sharing his thoughts on what will be a crucial and potentially decisive weekend for his team, Stars head coach Jeff Mason said: “Last time we played Manchester at home we beat them.
“They’re a very tough competing team and they’re playing good hockey right now, so it’s important for us to go out there and match their intensity.
“We have to try to bring the game to them, try to put pucks in the net and play a physical brand of hockey, not give them time and space, and stay out of the penalty area.
“There haven’t been many games that we’re not in, but at the same time, we’re not winning enough games.
“It’s one thing to be in the games and it’s another to win them and to me that comes down to the details of the game and our details need to be better in some areas, and we need more from some guys.
“Our puck management at certain times needs to be better and there have been a number of games where we’ve been and we haven’t created enough offensive opportunities or the games that we have, we haven’t capitalized on them.
“We need to find a way to make more of our opportunities because in most games we have enough to take advantage or win games and we’re not finding the back of the net close enough.
“To me that just means simplifying our game, getting more pucks and more traffic to the net, more second and third glances around the goal, making the goalkeeper work harder to see the pucks and then attack when you have your chances.”
Swedish winger Johan Eriksson has managed to contribute 20 points in 25 games, five of them against the Storm in three appearances and discussed what it will take to beat Manchester tonight.
He said: “We just need to play our game, believe in ourselves and play hard.
“We need to minimize their chances because they have some good players and their front line is very skilled, so we need to keep it simple and work hard.
“It’s going to be a great game and we need those points so we can move forward here in the final stretch of the games, so we’ll do everything we can this week to be ready for the weekend.
“We all really want that win, we need it, and we will do everything we can to win the game for both ourselves and the fans.”
Tonight’s home game will face off at 7 p.m.
All images: Derek Black.