Preview: Blaze vs. Stars (02/10/16)
Genting Casino Coventry Blaze will welcome a number of familiar faces to the Skydome Arena this evening as former Head Coach Marc LeFebvre brings his Dundee Stars to the Midlands (5.15pm face-off).
In addition to the ex-Blaze boss, tough defenceman Craig Cescon, who was a playoff champion with Coventry in 14/15 lines up on the Stars' blue-line whilst the popular Cale Tanaka also returns.
Playing near 200 games for the club and contributing over 100 points, Tanaka particularly is sure to receive a warm reception from the Skydome faithful.
Once the puck drops though there will be just one thing on the Blaze fans mind, kicking the skid of 6 games and sealing a big home 'W'.
To acheive that, the man Danny Stewart's side will need to beat in net is 31-year-old Joe Fallon. Standing at 6'3" the American is a relatively large goalie with significant experience in the NCAA, ECHL, AHL and time in Norway, Denmark and Germany.
Joining Cescon on defence is British trio Josh Grieveson (recently called up to GB U20's), Cameron McGiffin and Craig Moore. A second year pro, Joey De Concilys is joined by the offensive minded Félix-Antoine Poulin who has started the season well with 8 points in 8 games. Kevin Hart rounds of the Dundee D core returning for a second year.
Vinny Scarsella who hit 74 points including 31 goals last season with the Manchester Storm is a standout name in the Stars forward group, leading the team for points so far, 5+7 = 12 in the 8 games. Not far behind him is the aforementioned Cale Tanaka who has also started the year strongly posting 11 points (4+7). A further new name is Joey Sides, also with 11 points so far (7+4) he scored a highlight reel goal in the recent game against the Belfast Giants showing a level of skill to be respected.
Scott Brannon returns after registering 5 goals, 4 assists in 11 games after joining Dundee late during the last campaign. He’s joined by Dundee’s Player of the Season, Justin Faryna who has again started well. A point-per-game so far and 64 in 59 last season, with a 155 penalty-minutes too! Mikael Lidhammer and Brett Switzer are further popular returnees to the Dundee Ice Arena. Italian International Tommaso Traversa and 6’2” centreman Matt White round off the Stars’ forward group, both joining following time in the ECHL.
The last time Blaze and Dundee met was in March of last season when the Stars edged out the Blaze 2-1 at the Dundee Arena. The last meeting between the teams in Coventry was in January, when the Blaze triumphed 4-3 in overtime at the Skydome Arena. Coventry have won their last eleven home games against Dundee, with the Scottish club’s last win at the Skydome coming in March 2011. The Stars have only won three times in 20 previous games against the Blaze in Coventry.
Special teams could be key tonight with Dundee possessing a 21.4% scoring rate on their powerplay over the 4 away games they’ve played so far. Blaze too possess a healthy strike rate with the extra man on home ice, 27.8% over 4 games at the Skydome. Penalty-killing wise, Dundee away from home so far are at 81.0%, Blaze 82.6% at home.
Head Coach Danny Stewart said for the Elite Website (here):
"It looks like Marc Lefebvre has brought in a younger, fast paced team. Their back end and in between the pipes will be a little bit stronger than they were last year…they look like an exciting team that likes to skate and it looks like they have the work rate too."
“Puck possession will be huge, especially in our rink. If we can keep pucks down in their end and force them to play defence I think that will nullify their speed.”
Dundee Stars Head Coach Marc Lefebvre commented on Dundee Stars TV (here):
"It’s a smaller building. For a team with our speed we’ve got to find a way to get through that traffic there…they’ve got a good team and a great goaltender but at the end of the day we’ve just got to try and find a way to get the points."
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