By Kris Smith
Stars extended their winning run to three league games after a third period fightback against Coventry to claim a 4-2 win.
Jordan Kelsall was the only Dundee player not to ice while Coventry travelled without five players, most of them youth prospects.
The first chance came when Stars were put on the powerplay in the fourth minute as Nicolai Bryhnisveen was penalised for interference. However, with just six seconds to go on the penalty kill, Dundee were also called for interference and Shawn Boutin sat in the box for two minutes. Both penalties expired before the any team could open the scoring.
There was a good chance for Dundee’s Lukas Lundvald but he could not get his shot past Miika Wiikman from distance before his sidewent back on the man advantage. Tim Crowder was boxed for a hooking infraction on the 10-minute mark but it soon became four-on-four again after another hooking call, this time against Stars forward, Brian Hart.
Dundee were in trouble when a lofted pass hit the skate of a Blaze player and went towards the Stars goal but Pontus Sjögren was able to keep it out. Again, both penalties were killed off before Danny Stewart’s team were again penalised. A tripping call against Kevin Morris in the 14thminute left Stars on their third man advantage of the night but it was another opportunity they did not capitalised on.
The home side had produced some good play but it resulted in nothing. The West Midlands club were in trouble when Trey Lewis failed to control the puck and with Fabrizio Ricci looking to make Coventry pay for their mistake, he was also unable to corral the puck before it was scrambled away. Both sides had created chances but they were even going into the first break.
Dundee had the first chance of the middle period as Jordan Cownie was through on goal but his shot was held by the Blaze goalie in the opening minute. Inside the 23rdminute, Stars went back on the man advantage when Ross Venus slashed Lundvald as he tried to release a shot. A sloppy pass from François Bouchard allowed the Blaze to break whilst shorthanded but Ben Lake could not beat Sjögren.
Another man advantage was wasted by Dundee before Charles Corcoran was next to head to the sin bin. The American picked-up a two-minute penalty for slashing in the 25thminute and Coventry looked more dangerous on the powerplay than Dundee did. The visitors then took the lead with a powerplay goal after Ben Lake redirected Jake Hansen’s shot past the Stars netminder in the 26thminute.
Stars were struggling to regain control of the game as they looked to tie it up before the halfway mark. Morris returned to the box, this time guilty of interference in the 31stminute. Stars built some pressure but Blaze shut them down again before returning to full strength. To the dismay of Omar Pacha, his team were then penalised for having too-many men on the ice and Lundvald would serve the two-minute minor on the 33rdminute mark.
As the penalty ended, Stars went straight on the attack and got the goal they needed. Bouchard made up for his earlier mistake by drawing Stars level in the 36thminute. He was waiting at the backdoor and out of sight of Wiikman as Boutin played a pass that the Canadian could just slap into the net.
Another chance quickly came for Dundee and they could have taken the lead if not for the Coventry keeper denying Matt Marquardt’s effort that was heading for the top shelf. The Tayside team gave themselves just the boost they needed going into the second interval and a big third period lay ahead for both sides.
Stars got the better start to the third period as they created numerous chances to score but were unable to convert any into the go-ahead-goal as Wiikman made multiple stops. Dundee continued to get forward but were just doing too-much in front of goal and the chances were slipping away.
Blaze finally won back control and from this took the lead. Morris fired a low shot that was blocked by Mike Sullivan but Luke Ferrara was on the edge of the crease and able to smash it past Sjögren in the 50thminute. Dundee were gifted a chance to get a quick response as Hansen was boxed on slashing call on the 51stminute mark.
Stars continued to press following the conclusion of the powerplay. Bouchard fired a shot off the pad of Wiikman and Sullivan drifted in at the backdoor to blast home the equaliser in the 54thminute. The home side were back on the powerplay as Lewis was boxed for tripping in the 56thminute.
Just as Blaze returned to full strength, a pass from Cownie came out to Sullivan and he rifled a shot high past Wiikman in the 58thminute. It did not take long before Stars moved 4-2 ahead after Sullivan’s shot from the blueline was tipped by Corcoran in the 59thminute.
Danny Stewart pulled his goalie with one-minute remaining before calling a timeout in the final 30 seconds. The English team were unable to find the net before the final buzzer and Stars sealed their third straight Elite League win.
‘Man of the Match’ awards went to Luke Ferrara and Dundee’s hero, Mike Sullivan. Omar Pacha’s men now travel to Wales as they take on Cardiff Devils, who thrashed Fife Flyers 8-3 on Saturday night after coming back from 2-0 down.