Dundee Stars wrap up Gardiner Conference

By Craig AndersonBBC Scotland
Edinburgh beat west coast rivals Braehead at the weekend

Jubilant Dundee Stars coach Jeff Hutchins admitted he was relieved after winning the Gardiner Conference on Sunday following their 3-1 win over Braehead Clan.

Their victory gives them second seeding in the play-off quarter finals and any one of Coventry Blaze, Hull Stingrays, Cardiff Devils or Fife Flyers await them in three weeks.

But it was all about the moment and Hutchins accepts he may not be able to keep the players that have done the job for him, but he has his eyes on a play-off finals weekend spot first.

He said: "I'm relieved to be honest. With the injuries we've had, especially recently, it's great to get over the line.

"We brought in some good character guys that had something to prove and they promised me they would work hard. They've done that and I'm delighted for them.

"Will I get the chance to keep them? Probably not, but good for them. Hopefully this gives them to platform to go on to something bigger.

"We wanted to finish in the top four and win the Conference and we've done one of those. Now it's time to keep it rolling ahead of the play-offs."

The Stars started the weekend with a 3-1 loss at Coventry Blaze, despite Dylan Quaile opening the scoring for Dundee, but Cale Tanaka was on hand to level for the Blaze.

Coventry then went ahead through Adam Henrich early in the third period with Kelsey Wilson adding a third for the home side to finish the job.

So it all came down to Sunday, with Dundee knowing two points over Braehead Clan would secure them their first ever silverware since joining the Elite League in 2010.

After a goalless first period, Stars got the upper hand early in the second session when James Isaacs opened the scoring before Ed McGrane levelled for Braehead.

Billy Bagron took advantage of a defensive Clan error to restore the home side's lead, with Nikita Kashirsky adding another strike in the final period to trigger the celebrations.

As for Braehead, it ended the weekend on a disappointing note, especially after thumping former Elite League champions Nottingham Panthers 8-2 on Saturday.

Doubles from Ash Goldie, Joel Champagne and Ed McGrane as well as single strikes from Joe Cullen and Scott Aarssen secured the points in an entertaining match.

But with the Conference a top priority, there was disappointment at the end and Clan coach Ryan Finnerty was happy enough with the weekend's displays.

He said: "I'm disappointed to give up the Conference, but I've got to congratulate Jeff Hutchins and everyone at Dundee Stars for the great year they've had.

"Our guys gave it their all and the Stars did a great job of neutralising our speed. They made it tough for us to generate any offensive play.

"Now we're looking at finishing as high up the league as we can and look for that bit of consistency that will take us into the play-offs. There's still a lot to play for

Meanwhile, Fife Flyers' pursuit of a play-off place suffered a minor setback, despite finally getting into the top eight over the course of the weekend.

Thrashing old rivals Edinburgh Capitals 8-3 moved them ahead of Cardiff Devils in the table, with Matt Reber scoring a hat-trick.

Josh Scoon, Derek Roehl, Kyle Horne, Danny Stewart and Justin DaCosta also added goals that the Flyers climb over the Devils - for 24 hours at least.

The Flyers made their way to Nottingham to take on the Panthers, but despite leading 2-1 after two periods, the home team turned it around in the third period.

David Clarke opened the scoring for Panthers in the first period, but the Kirkcaldy replied in the second, with Jordan Fulton and Reber both scoring to give Fife the lead.

Nottingham found an extra gear in the final period however and a four-goal salvo, with Matt Francis scoring twice, killed Flyers' hopes of a surprise victory at the former champions.

Cardiff's 5-1 win over Coventry Blaze returned the Flyers back into ninth place, but with games in hand, they are far from out of things at this stage.

Weekend results:


Braehead Clan 8-2 Nottingham Panthers

Coventry Blaze 3-1 Dundee Stars

Fife Flyers 8-3 Edinburgh Capitals


Dundee Stars 3-1 Braehead Clan 1 (Dundee win Gardiner Conference)

Nottingham Panthers 5-2 Fife Flyers