By Kris Smith
Stars travel to Glasgow on Hogmanay for another conference clash with Braehead Clan and are aiming to take the points this time after letting a 2-1 lead slip on their last visit.
This is just the second meeting between the Scottish rivals this season and the Tayside team came close to taking all the points in the first match. Dundee took the lead twice, first through Malcolm Gould and again through Riley Stadel but goals from Tyler Shattock and Mike Embach drew the Glaswegian club level.
Stars head coach, Omar Pacha, is looking to avoid another two-minutes of havoc as his side gave up two goals in one minute and forty-two seconds. After Embach levelled the score at the halfway point and Tyler Scofield gave Braehead the lead in the thirty-second minute, before John Tripp’s side managed to hold out for the 3-2 victory.
Dundee have been hit hard with injuries all season and just as most of the injuries were clearing up they have been hit with another departure. Justin Fox was a late addition to the squad, but the club was shocked to hear his decision to leave before Christmas Day.
The Ontario native had just found some form for his new team as he picked up 4 goals and 2 assists in his last 4 games, which included the back-to-back Gardiner Conference wins over Edinburgh Capitals and his former club Fife Flyers.
Omar Pacha is actively searching for replacements to fill their three empty roster spots. They are now two imports short of the maximum allowed after Canadian forward Taylor Dickin departed earlier in the month along with British defenceman Cam McGiffin.
Having to play with a shortage of bodies is nothing new to this team, it is more of a speciality. Whilst taking some heavy defeats from the top teams in the league as expected they have continued to pull off some remarkable results.
They have now put together three straight league wins on home ice and are looking to continue their home dominance when Braehead are the first visitors of 2018 (02 Jan). However, they must first face them at the Braehead Arena and attempt to knock Clan back off their stride.
Braehead have just snapped a seven-game losing streak which included four home defeats from Cardiff, Sheffield, Nottingham and Guildford. They ended a miserable drought with a 3-2 win over Belfast Giants in Glasgow before slipping past, bottom of the league, Edinburgh 3-1.
The current Gardiner Conference champions have won just seven of their thirteen home games and sit in ninth place in the Elite League table. Meanwhile Stars are ranked eleventh and seven points behind Clan with another six matches to be played between them in the new year.
Dundee may have found their home form recently but they have lost their last two away games over the Christmas period. They were suffered an 8-1 defeat in Cardiff before they were shutout 4-0 on Boxing Day by Manchester Storm.
Brendan Brooks is now in his third Elite League season and his second with Braehead. He leads Clan in both goals and point scoring with 18 goals and 19 assists for 37 points from 34 games played.
Gabriel Lévesque leads Dundee in their overall point scoring as he has put up 34 points in 36 games, bagging 7 goals and assisting on 27 for a total of 34 points. Riley Stadel has found the net most often for Stars with 10 goals in his first professional season.
Dundee defenceman, Anthony Mastrodicasa, has missed a large amount of the season through injury and is now back into the swing of things. He has been praised by Coach Pacha for the impact he has made since his return and the boost he has given to the rest of his team.
Looking ahead to the conference clash with Braehead, Mastrodicasa said: “We are feeling confident going into the weekend, these two points are huge, not only for the standings but to end this year on a good note and moving forward into the second half of the season.”
Toby Craig is the referee for this Sunday’s match and he will be assisted by Ally Flockhart and Colin Connor.
Photo: Al Goold