By Kris Smith
The Kitmart Dundee Stars take on Guildford Flames for the first time this season as Stars aim to build on their mid-table position.
Omar Pacha is looking to build off a 3-2 overtime defeat to Elite League title holders Cardiff Devils in the mid-week where Dundee came back from 2-0 down to steal a point from the Welsh side. They face a double header with the Flames first in Surrey on Saturday night before returning to Dundee on Sunday to host Paul Dixon’s side.
While Stars were picking up four points from four games last weekend, the Flames were beaten 3-2 by Nottingham Panthers in the league after losing their fourth Challenge Cup tie by a score of 5-2 at the hands of the Devils.
This left Guildford seventh in league with four points from four games, while Stars moved into fifth after their clash with Cardiff, they sit on six points after six games played.
Stars failed to beat the Flames last season in their four meetings, the closest they came was a narrow 3-2 overtime defeat and Pacha’s side is hungry to get their first win over Guildford since they re-joined the top level of British Hockey last season.
Kruise Reddick leads the Flames point scoring chart with 12 points from eight games, While Bouchard still leads the Stars with an average of one point a game after recording 11 points in 11 matches.
Ex-Stars goalie Travis Fullerton is now one of three netminders at Guildford and in his only Elite League start of the season, recorded a shutout against the Glasgow Clan. Dixon will have the choice to start either Fullerton against his former club or go to his other option in Chris Carrozzi.
There are a few injury concerns for Dundee, while the Flames did not dress Brett Ferguson and goaltender Mike Will last weekend.
Head Coach Omar Pacha expects a “good challenge” from the Surrey side this weekend, he said: “It is going to be a good challenge to go to Guildford and it is a long trip.
“Guildford play a fast-paced skill type of hockey, so it will be a different team to what we have faced all season.
“I think they are a lot faster than most teams, maybe at the same speed as Cardiff, but maybe a bit smaller and a bit more technical, so they are going to be a really different challenge.”
With the busy scheduling continuing for Stars, Pacha added: “The players are doing as well as I thought they would, they are doing really good considering the schedule and the travel.
“We are trying to manage as much rest as possible and trying to keep guys fresh.
“Obviously losing (Matt) Marquardt on Wednesday and Petr Chaloupka then obviously not having (Matt) Bissonnette not in the line-up, it is really important to get fresh legs ready for the weekend.”
In regards to the injury problems and if any players will be fit enough for this weekend’s fixtures, Omar replied: “We will have to re-evaluate everything, hopefully we get one or two guys back in the line-up but possibly the three could be out.”
Guildford were a team Stars struggled against last year and Pacha wants to see his side continue their good away form.
He said: “We just want to compete hard, especially against Guildford on the road, it is a tough place to play.
“We want to make sure we continue the good road form we have had, we have had great road games so far and I feel we are in every single road game.
“It is just about trying to find our scoring touch and playing the same way defensively.
“They are an offensive team, so it is really important to be steady defensively and try to keep our powerplay rolling.
“Our powerplay unit scored two goals on Wednesday, so offensively we need to try to create more chances and score more goals.”
Face-off for Saturday’s fixture is at 6pm at the Spectrum Arena before a 5pm Start in Dundee on Sunday.