Panthers Preview

By Kris Smith

The final weekend of the season is upon Dundee Stars and they are looking to go out on a high by causing upsets against two big teams.

They kick-off the weekend by hosting Nottingham Panthers for the final home game of the 2017/18 season. Dundee have only beaten Corey Neilson’s team once this season and it was in their last meeting on the road. Panthers sit seventh in the table and if they win their remaining three games then they could possibly finish third, as only three points separate them with third placed Belfast Giants.

Nottingham have beaten Stars twice this season, once at home and once on the road but Dundee will be keen to put a show on for their fans and leave a positive mark on their final home game. Panthers claimed a 3-0 victory at home in the first meeting before defeating Dundee 3-1 in Scotland but Omar Pacha’s men exacted their revenge by stealing the points after a tightly contested 4-3 win in Nottingham.

During their last visit to Tayside, a dominant opening period from Dundee should have put them well ahead but a combination of creating turnovers and clinical finishing allowed the visitors to take the lead. They slowly choked out the game and all its momentum before securing the two points.

In the last match, it was a slightly different story at the National Ice Centre as Stars went up 3-0 before the halfway mark but despite Nottingham pulling one back, Dundee kept their shape and retained the momentum before finding a fourth goal. Panthers struck twice in the third period, but it was not enough to peg back Omar Pacha’s side.

Brian Hart and Jordan Cownie both have two goals against Panthers while Cody Carlson has netted once against the English club. Jeff Brown and Alexander Mokshantsev have both scored twice in the three games against Dundee and Luke Pither, Zack Phillips, Eric Lindhagen and Mike Vaskivuo have all beat Travis Fullerton once.

David Clarke and Robert Farmer are still missing from the Panthers line-up, the pair did not dress for the 2-1 home win over Fife. Meanwhile Dundee are without defencemen Riley Stadel and Joey De Concilys as the duo remain out through injury and Chris Lawrence was absent from the squad that was defeated in Guildford on Wednesday night.

British defenceman, Kris Inglis, believes this weekend is a good chance for some players to “gain more experience” at Britain’s top level of professional ice hockey. He said: “Due to the position our team is in, I feel this weekend is a good chance for the likes of myself to get some more ice time and gain more experience.

“These games will be fun to play in and allow us to gain some more confidence.

“I am excited for the challenge this weekend of playing against two good teams, getting some game time will be a lot of fun.

“The adversity we faced as a team was crazy, playing down on numbers for a large part of the season was difficult but the boys battled through.

“Of course not making the playoffs isn’t where we wanted this season to end but there is a lot of positives we can take from the year.

Inglis is just two games away from completing his first Elite League season and the young Scot emphasised just what it means to the team, when they can get a large crowd backing them on their home ice, he added: “A packed building on Saturday night will be a huge boost for the team against Nottingham.

“We have come through a lot of challenges this season and we hope the fans will be there in numbers to support the boys.

“Hopefully we can produce a big win for the last home game as a final thanks for all this seasons dedicated support.

“The boys will put in the hard work to hopefully end this season on a high.”

Saturday’s home game starts at 7pm.