Elite Ice Hockey League Wrap: Dundee Stars go top in 15 goal thriller

Braehead Clan v Edinburgh Capitals, February 2013.
The Edinburgh Capitals prepare to face the Braehead Clan.© Kris Jack

A 15 goal thriller in Dundee saw the Stars go to the top of the Gardner Conference, as Edinburgh Capitals record a four pint weekend with two emphatic wins.

Braehead Clan's woes continued as they relinquished top spot in the Conference, while Fife Flyers endured a mixed weekend.

SATURDAY

BRAEHEAD CLAN 1-4 EDINBURGH CAPITALS (Gardner Conference)

Edinburgh Capitals recorded their fifth win of the season over Braehead Clan in a comfortable 4-1 win at Braehead Arena. Richard Hartmann's side were worthy winners, without having to move in to second gear, as Paul Gardiner's Clan slumped to a third successive defeat with an uninspiring home performance.

A decent first period saw the Clan have the better of the opening exchanges. Matt Schepke forced Tomas Hiadlovsky in to the first save of the night, the Caps nettie deflecting the recent signings shot over, after a great release from Krestanovich in the second minute.

Schepke went close again soon after when Jade Galbraith played him in, only for the forward to fall as he took his shot, spurning the chance. Jade Portwood thought he had Daren Machesney beat in the Caps first attack, but his first timer from distance whistled wide of the pipes.

Rene Jarolin then almost gave the visitors the lead, but he saw is shot from Brent Patry's feed blocked out. Hiadlovsky had to be at his best to stop Brock McPherson, then Ash Goldie in quick succession to keep his goal intact, but he was eventually beaten at 6:30 when good work from Haywood on the left teed up Adam Walker with an easy finish at the back post.

The Brit could have made it 2-0 when Hanson went behind the net to play him in, but Hiadlovsky did well to deny him on the doorstep. It would be Walker's last contribution as he would not return to the ice for the rest of the game.

Edinburgh drew level in style at 10:49, Brent Patry blasting past Machesney from an angle after good play on the right from Leinweber. There would be no further first period scoring, despite Clan having a powerplay, with Matt Hanson having the best of the chances from the blue line. Jarolin then saw a good effort kept out by Machesney as the session drew to a close.

It took less than two minutes of the restart for the visitors to go ahead, Michal Benadik firing in a deflected effort at 21:45, from a similar position to Patry's first. From there on in, Braehead never looked like getting back in to the game, with Goldie finding Hiadlovsky in fine form, stopping all that was hit at him.

Machesney was putting in an equally admirable performance in the Clan goal, making a fantastic shoulder save from Zembergs on a breakaway, but he would eventually be beaten again when Curtis Leinweber sublimely teed up Jarolin with a spin and pass to make it 3-1 at 33:47.

Clan's forward line found themselves lacking the clinician and spark that Edinburgh had going forward, with Krestanovich and Goldie over working things on too many occasions, while the D were much too reliant on Machesney to keep them in the game.

The third period started brighter for the hosts, but again, they couldn't find a way past Hiadlovsky. McPherson, Schepke and Goldie were all denied in quick succession, before Martin Cingel wrapped the game up for the Capitals at 44:58 finishing off a move down the right hand side first time from in front of goal.

The Clan huffed and puffed, but were bereft of ideas and as the final buzzer went, boos rang out around the Arena. It was a deserved win for the Capitals, but they weren't especially made to work for it. With Hull beating Dundee 5-1, Paul Gardiner will be disappointed his side couldn't capitalise on their slip up to move further ahead.

For the Capitals, that other result means their win wasn't as important as it could have been for their playoff hopes, but they will be happy with the two points nonetheless.

FIFE FLYERS 5-4 CARDIFF DEVILS (Elite League)

The Flyers won out over the Devils on penalty shots in a goal filled game in Kirkcaldy, with Jason Pitton on hand to secure the W in the Shootout. It was Fife's third win on the trot as they looked to gain on both Braehead and Dundee.

It was Pitton who opened the scoring after just 31 seconds, beating Chris Whitley to give the hosts an early lead. Jason Batch tied the game for the Devils at 5:03 before Casey Haines scored on a powerplay to give the Flyers the lead again at 9:17.

A pp opportunity in the second allowed Bobby Chaumont to grab a third for the Flyers at 26:04, before Max Birbraer pulled one back for Gerad Adams side, with a shorthanded strike at 32:10.

With the match finely poised going in to the final session, the goals came tuck and fast, as Tyson March made it three apiece at the start of the period. An tense final four minutes saw Zac Carriveau strike to seemingly give the victory to the hosts, before a goal on 57:46 from Devils player coach Adams tied the game to force over time.

The extra period was bereft of a winner, so the game would be decided on panel any shots. With a perfect first round of shots, Chris Batch's miss for the Devils allowed Pitton to win the game for Fife, beating Whitley for a second time on the night to clinch the points.

HULL STINGRAYS 5-1 DUNDEE STARS (Gardner Conference)

Arguably the shock of the night, Sylvain Cloutier's Stingrays took five off the Dundee Stars, to throw a spanner in to the playoff mix. The Stars had the perfect opportunity to overtake Clan at the top of the Gardner, due to the result at Braehead, but instead couldn't make the most of their rivals' slip up.

Jason Silverthorn and Jereme Tendler had the hosts ahead in the first period, converting at 7:20 and 15:18 respectively. The second period gave the Stars a chance to react, but instead they fell further behind when Dominic Osman racked up a a double in the space of 54 seconds to give the Rays a four goal lead.

The five star show was completed for the home side as Tom Squires grabbed the fifth just after the midway point, sealing the win. AJ MacLean pulled a goal back on the Powerplay at 37:52 but it was not enough to mount a comeback, as the chance to top the table bypassed the Stars for a night at least.

SUNDAY

DUNDEE STARS 8-7 HULL STINGRAYS (After Overtime) (Gardner Conference)

A quite remarkable game in Dundee saw the Stars edge ahead of Braehead at the top of the Gardner Conference and in the big league, having got the odd goal in 15 to secure a revenge win over Hull Stingrays.

Just like the previous evening, Jason Silverthorn put the Rays ahead, but this side were unable to advance, as the Stars grabbed three without reply. Sami Ryhanen tied the game, before former Stingray Janis Ozolins put them ahead at 17:10, Matt Baxter netting the third just 29 seconds later.

A goal laden final five minutes in the second period saw the Cloutier's side surge ahead throug Ondrej, Cloutier himself on a powerplay and Silverthorn once more with a shorthanded strike at 37:33. The Stars responded with another two goals before the period ended, Billy Bagron levelling and Mike Wirll firing the home side ahead in the 39th minute.

Amidst the goals the Stars had Tristan Harper ejected ona match penalty for fighting, while the Stingrays lost Shane Lovdahl on a five and game for roughing.

The excitement would.nt wain in the final session, as Tom Squires made the game 5-5, before Pat Bowen and Ozolins had them ahead by two at the midway point of the session. Dominic Osman then reduced the lead to one goal at 49:27 before Kurtis Dulle made the most of a powerplay to score the game's 14th goal at 50:52, sending the game to overtime.

With both sides earning a point in an enthralling match up, the W fall in to the lap of the hosts as Matt Baxter grabbed his second of the night with just 18 seconds remaining to clinch the victory and send the Stars to the top of the Gardner Conference.

EDINBURGH CAPITALS 7-2 FIFE FLYERS (Gardner Conference)

The Caps earned a four point weekend with big wins over their rivals, sealing it with an emphatic victory over Fife at Murrayfield. Eight days ago, the Flyers had taken seven off of Richard Hartmann's side, but the Caps managed to hit back just as soundly, launching themselves in to the playoff positions in the process.

Peter Holecko had the Caps ahead at the death of the first period, before the game burst in to life in the second. Hartmann led by example to put his side 2-0 up at 25:22 before the Flyers tried to make a game of it, levelling through a Bobby Chaumont PP strike at 27:11 and Danny Stewart at 28:42.

That would be as close as the Flyers would get to the Caps on the night, as penalties saw them go in to the third period 4-2 down. Curtis Leinweber fired the hosts ahead at 35:33 before Rene Jarolin increased the lead at 39:32.

Three goals in the final four minutes rounded out the scoring for the Capitals as Jade Portwood made it 5-2 at 56:26, with Zembergs and Holecko bookending the scoring at 59:28 to bring a great weekend for Edinburgh to an end.

COVENTRY BLAZE 2-0 BRAEHEAD CLAN (Elite League)

A fourth successive defeat for the Clan saw them give up top spot in the Gardner Conference and slip to eighth in the big league, as the Blaze got revenge for their recent Challenge Cup exit.

The hosts outshot the Clan 25-8 in the opening session, but could only find a way past Daren Machesney once, when Adam Henrich scored at 9:45.

Shea Guthrie made it 2-0 at 24:05, but despite getting themselves back in to the game, Paul Gardiner's side could not find a way past Peter Hirsch.

The defeat sees the Clan slip to their lowest Elite League position since October, leaving the, hanging on precariously to a play off slot. Their game with Hull in midweek may just become their most important of the season.

Kris Jack is a sports blogger and commentator. You can follow him on Twitter @krisjack85.