Ice hockey: Dundee Stars defiant despite two defeats as Clan win

Ice hockey

It was the weekend when Braehead Clan ended their losing run to qualify for the Elite League play-offs and Dundee Stars were left insisting they are still focused on trying to win the Gardiner Conference despite two huge losses.

The Stars went down 7-0 to Sheffield Steelers and then suffered a setback in their Conference bid with a 6-2 home defeat to Manchester Storm.

While the losses may have been sobering, forward Curtis Leinweber is remaining defiant as the season heads into its final month.

"If we have a chance and we're still chasing, of course we want to be in there," he said.

"We want to win as much as we can and our eyes are still on the prize.

"The weekend was a real disappointment for us and we have to sit and refocus.

"Saturday was a tough game and it didn't get any better for us on Sunday. It was one to forget.

"If we pick some points, hopefully that can give us the spur to fire us into the stretch and who knows, maybe into the play-off weekend as well."

Steelers were clearly hurting from their midweek Challenge Cup humiliation, losing 10-0 on aggregate to Nottingham Panthers.

So it was natural to expect that someone was getting it. Unfortunately for Marc Lefebvre and his team, they were on the receiving end in Yorkshire.

Levi Nelson, Jeff Legue, Jace Coyle, Matthieu Roy, Guillaume Desbiens, Tyler Mosienko and Conny Stromberg made sure it was seven without reply for the Steelers as Stars toiled.

They barely had time to lick their wounds when Manchester Storm kept their play-off qualification hopes up with a 6-2 win on Tayside on Sunday.

Jason Gray's opener for Dundee was cancelled out by Mathew Sisca, with Luke Salazar adding two and one from Vinny Scarsella to make it 4-1 for Manchester.

Stars' Brett Switzer picked up their second, but Sisca restored Storm's three-goal advantage, with Derek Roehl completing the scoring in the end.

One team now in the play-offs are Braehead, who ended a forgettable February with a much-needed win.

Ryan Finnerty's men had two home games and, although they performed well in the 5-2 defeat by Belfast Giants on Saturday, it was a case of the result not matching the performance.

Clan took an early lead when captain Matt Keith, returning from injury, backhanded a chance home, but goals from Kris Beech and James Desmarais turned the game in Belfast's favour.

Beech added a second for the visitors before Stefan Meyer pulled one back to cut the lead to one heading into the third period.

Mike Forney added a fourth for the Giants with a bullet shot before Mitch Ganzak rounded things off with an empty net goal at the death.

Buoyed by the positives, Clan ended a five-game losing run with a 4-2 win over Nottingham Panthers to confirm a place in the Elite League's top eight.

David Clarke opened the scoring, Scott Pitt levelled in the second period, then Nathan McIver put the home side in front, only for Robert Farmer to equalise.

However, Pitt added his second to make it 3-2 before wrapping it up with his hat-trick empty net goal late on.

Another team who won't be long in ensuring their play-off spot should be Fife Flyers, although they had to use penalty shots to squeeze out plucky Edinburgh Capitals.

Following on from their 3-1 win over Cardiff Devils on Thursday, the Flyers eeked out a 5-4 victory in Murrayfield to stay on track.

Shayne Stockton and Jeff Lee had Flyers two up before Taylor Dickin pulled one back, with Trevor Gerling and Ned Lukacevic putting the Caps ahead after the first period.

Stockton completed his hat-trick - either side of an RJ Berra goal - to force the game into overtime then penalty shots, where they came up trumps courtesy of Justin Fox.

RESULTS

Thursday

Fife Flyers 3-1 Cardiff Devils

Saturday

Braehead Clan 2-5 Belfast Giants

Sheffield Steelers 7-0 Dundee Stars

Sunday

Braehead Clan 4-2 Nottingham Panthers

Dundee Stars 2-6 Manchester Storm

Edinburgh Capitals 4-5 Fife Flyers 5 (PS)

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