PREVIEW: Stars @ Storm

By Kris Smith

Stars return to action on Boxing Day as they travel to Manchester to face the Storm for the last time in the regular season.

Omar Pacha will be aiming to make it three wins in a row against his former club as his side take on Manchester for the final time in the regular season.

Dundee blew a three-goal lead and went on to lose after penalty shots down in England. Ex-Storm players Adam Harding and Taylor Dickin gave Stars an early lead before Marc-Olivier Mimar extended it to 3-0. However, Ryan Finnerty’s men rallied to tie the game through Scott Pitt, Luke Moffatt and Mike Hammond before Ciaran Long’s penalty shot secured the extra point.

Dundee corrected their mistakes when Storm visited the DIA for the first time, as they took the 5-4 shootout win. Goals from Joey De Concilys (2), Justin Fox and a debut goal for Brian Hart helped Stars level the score three times before Mimar’s shootout winner in the sixth round won the second point for Dundee. Dallas Ehrhardt, Matt Beca, Pitt and Hammond each netted one goal each to keep the pressure on Stars but failed to beat an in-form Travis Fullerton.

Stars defeated their former Gardiner Conference rivals again when the Altrincham side visited the DIA for a second-time last month. A dominant performance from Dundee helped them overcome a struggling storm side who once again fell short on the road. Gabriel Lévesque (2), Jimmy Jensen, Riley Stadel and Harding bagged the five goals for Dundee, while Dane Byers, Hammond and Pitt scored Storm’s three. Hammond and Pitt have scored a goal in each game against Stars this season.

Chris Auger has only featured in 10 of Manchester’s games this season due to injuries.

Hammond moved to Storm along with head coach Ryan Finnerty when they departed from Braehead Clan in the summer. The Canadian leads the Storm in points with 19 goals and 26 assists from 32 games.

Lévesque leads Dundee in point scoring as he has now hit 7 goals and 27 assists from 34 games in all EIHL competitions.

It has been three feisty affairs between the two clubs with four fights in the first two games. Emerson Hrynyk, Johan Andersson, Mimar and Jensen were all involved for Dundee and Linden Springer, Shane Bakker and ex-Star Paul Swindlehurst dropped the gloves for Storm.

Dundee defeated their biggest rivals, Fife Flyers, on Friday evening as they continued to their Gardiner Conference comeback. The 4-2 victory drew them level on points with Edinburgh Capitals. However, their hard work was undone against Cardiff Devils as the reigning league champs skated to an 8-1 victory in the Welsh Capital.

Meanwhile, Manchester may have slipped off the top spot in the league but their form is picking up as they put together back-to-back wins with a win against Guildford before beating Nottingham at the NIC last weekend.