The Trade-Mart Dundee Stars begin their league campaign this weekend with a road trip to Manchester up first in a double header weekend with the Storm and the Stars are hungry to make a winning start to their regular season.
By Kris Smith
The Stars are aiming to make a winning start to their Elite League campaign after last weekend’s double defeat to Belfast Giants in the Challenge Cup Group Stage, as they were beaten 4-1 in Belfast and then 6-2 on home ice by the reigning Elite League, Challenge Cup and Playoff champions.
Now, Marc LeFebvre’s men are hoping to start off their regular season with victories in Manchester and at home, however, they face a Storm side who have already recorded their first league win.
Last weekend, Manchester took on Nottingham Panthers in a double header with Saturday night’s Challenge Cup tie in Altrincham ending in a 4-2 win for the Panthers, before Sunday’s league clash at the Motorpoint Arena saw the Storm come out at 3-2 victors.
Tyler Hinam and Mitchell Martin scored for Matt Ginn’s men on Saturday to make it a 3-2 game after they had fallen three-goals behind in the opening four minutes.
Then on Sunday in Nottingham, Martin, Santeri Haarlaa and Himan all found the net and gave Manchester their own 3-0 lead against the Panthers, which after being cut back to a one-goal cushion, they would hold on to claim the win.
Meanwhile, Johnny Walker opened the Stars account for the season, scoring their only goal in Belfast before Anthony Rinaldi and Brendan Harms fired Dundee into an early two-goal lead against the Giants on Saturday, with Harms’ strike notching his 600th career point.
Belfast would then fight back to claim the win as the Stars iced without two import forwards with Ryan Valentini and Jake Elmer being left out for precautionary measures, but both are set to return to the line-up this weekend.
This week also saw Manchester bolster their defence with the addition of Canadians Matt Murphy and ex-NHLer, Joe Morrow, who was a first-round selection in the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by Pittsburgh Penguins and he would go on to play in 173 NHL games across five seasons with Boston Bruins, Montreal Canadiens and Winnipeg Jets.
Speaking ahead of the double header weekend, Stars Head Coach, LeFebvre said: “We want to get off to the right start in the league and we get to forget about the Cup for a week.
“We know Manchester is a tough building to play in and it is not the usual size of ice rink, but we are prepared for a tough match.
“Every game is important for us, whether we are at home or on the road and we want to make sure we are an entertaining team and winning hockey games.
“Obviously, we want to get off to a winning start this weekend and get a few early wins in the league campaign, so that everything can just begin to flow into the rest of the season.”
Explaining how he plans to overcome the Storm this weekend, LeFebvre continued: “We know with our big size and physicality that we can cut down other teams’ time and space, especially in our defensive zone.
“We want to take away their opportunities and they will be looking to do the same, so I am sure it will be an entertaining game both ways.”
Stars alternate captain, Brendan Harms then added: “For a lot of us, it is going to be a little bit different playing on that small ice but we have 15 North American guys this year that have all come from the States or that are used to that NHL size.
“We have just been preparing in practice this week by working in smaller areas and getting used to the tight spaces, so the guys are getting excited and are really looking forward to starting the regular season.”
He continued: “If we can get off to a good start on Saturday night in Manchester and play a good game from there then we can roll that momentum back into our home game on Sunday.
“We are excited to play at home again, we had a really good start against Belfast, a couple good periods but we obviously did not finish the way we wanted to, so we are excited to get back out there, playing on home ice again and to get those wins on the board.”
Face-off for tonight’s game in Manchester is at 7pm and you can purchase the Storm webcast HERE!