By Kris Smith
Stars are planning to extend their impressive home form as they take on Edinburgh Capitals at home before trying to get there first win in the Scottish capital.
Dundee are looking to continue their strong start to their 2018 play-off push and they picked up a win on Tuesday over Braehead after a thrilling Gardiner Conference clash that seen Dundee pull two goals back in the third period before going on to take the extra point after penalty shots. Gabriel Lévesque got Stars on the board and Jimmy Jensen’s powerplay goal tied the game with eight minutes left. Two goals in the shootout from Riley Stadel and three stops from Travis Fullerton made them the heroes for Dundee once again as they won their team the extra point.
Dundee now sit eleventh and fifteen points clear of Edinburgh in the Elite League standings but back-to-back wins this weekend can lift them over Milton Keynes Lightning who are currently four points ahead. Stars are still eight points off the last play-off spot where Braehead Clan sit but Dundee still have two games in hand against Milton Keynes and Clan.
Dundee’s first double header of 2018 is with the only team below them in the league and conference and there are valuable points up for grabs. It will be a thrilling encounter as the struggling Caps announced the release of two more players earlier in the week whilst Dundee made the addition of two new faces to their squad.
The Lothian side has been hit by departures throughout the season with Duncan Speirs, Julius Nyqvist, Taylor Stefishen, Alexander Islamov and Marek Tvrdon having all left the club. The decision to also part ways with head coach, Dmitri Khristich, came not long before Christmas as Caps were glued to the bottom of the standings during the first half of the season.
Michael D’Orazio was promoted to player-coach and would take charge for the rest of the season along with assistant coach Jock Hay. The additions of Ainars Podzins and Nikita Kolesnikovs can be seen as positive to the side. Despite losing their last twelve games, with Edinburgh’s last win coming against Dundee at Murrayfield, they have not been shutout since the 7-0 road defeat to Guildford Flames in early November.
Starting netminder Pavel Shegalo has departed along with Juris Upitis but Edinburgh had announced the signing of Canadian goaltender, Tyler Beskorowany before the new year. They have also brought in Patrik Moisio who was released by Coventry Blaze in December.
Meanwhile in Tayside, Dundee are still without two key players through injury, Johan Andersson and Chris Lawrence are in recovery after successful surgeries but Stars dropped down to just 14 skaters for there Boxing Day match in Manchester after the unexpected departure of Justin Fox.
Omar Pacha managed to secure two new signings on New Years Day to return his squad to full-strength. Cody Carlson is set to make his first appearance tomorrow evening and Lukas Lundvald Nielsen made his debut in Dundee’s 3-2 shootout win over Braehead, Carlson’s former team.
During the twelve-game losing streak, Caps have conceded seventy-two goals whilst only scoring twenty-three. They were demolished 10-1by Fife and Guildford but consistent scoring has got them on the board in their last eighteen games. Kolesnikovs and Mike Cazzola have each scored five during their side’s slump, with Pavel Vorobyev and Dylan Anderson netting three.
The Tayside team have not won an away game since late October when they defeated Coventry Blaze 3-2 in overtime thanks to a hat-trick from Stadel. They also are without a win in Murrayfield as Edinburgh have won all four meetings on home ice and claimed a road win in Dundee back in October. Stars have just three victories in the eight meetings between the sides with two going all the way to a shootout and each side winning one each.
In the eight meetings Caps have outscored Stars by 27 goals to 19. Emerson Hrynyk leads Dundee in points against Edinburgh, the Canadian defenceman has one goal and four assists. Also, Lévesque and Malcolm Gould each have four points against the Capitals this season.
Stars head coach, Omar Pacha is keen to his side back on track as they have the chance to secure four vital points from this weekend double header. He said: “This is a big game and we need to get back on track in the conference.
“We have had success the last few games at home and we want to continue our good form, it’s important to get a good start and to maintain it throughout the weekend.”
“We want to see a big crowd again, it really boosts the guys and will help us continue our good form.”
Dundee defenceman, Emerson Hrynyk, insists “Confidence” is what will help Dundee get back into form as they look to challenge every team for a play-off spot. He said: “Confidence is key moving forward, we know we can play with anyone in the league we just have to bring consistent efforts and stick to the game plan.”
“It is a huge weekend for us we want to continue our successful run at home and build some consistency in our overall game, maximum points this weekend will put us right in the playoff hunt.
“The fans have been great the last few games, giving us lots of energy and excitement.
The ‘Kids for a Quid’ offer is back for this Saturday’s home game and face-off is at 7pm. Sunday’s game at Murrayfield will face-off at 6pm.
Tickets are still available for both games, tickets for Saturday’s game can be purchased at the DIA box office or online.