#POFW17 Stars v Devils: Flying flag for Scotland

Dundee Stars v Cardiff Devils (Pic: Derek Black)
Dundee Stars v Cardiff Devils (Pic: Derek Black)

Dundee Stars’ debut at the play-off finals weekend completes the circle for a club which has enjoyed life at the top, and endured tough times at the bottom.

The play-offs haven’t been particularly happy hunting ground for the Taysiders during their EIHL era – they’ve been knocked out at the quarter-final stage often, and also missed the cut completely.

Season 2013-14 saw Stars soar to third place in the league and take the conference in a memorable campaign, only to endure a painful descent to tenth, and last, position the very next season.

Now, their fans can look forward to a thrilling finale after a league campaign largely spent under the radar.

The role of the underdog is one the coach is happy to accept. He feels it suits them.

Lefebvre said: ‘‘There’s zero pressure on us going into this and we’re used to having that mentality. We’re not feeling it at all and we’ll take it one shift at a time and we’ll see what happens.’’

But Stars are certainly not going along just to make up the numbers.

The manner in which they swept past Braehead Clan in the quarter-finals certainly caught the eye – the first leg win on home ice could have been, by all accounts, even more emphatic, while they never looked in trouble in the return match.

Lefebvre will be looking for that sort of form to continue when they go up against a mighty Cardiff team.

“It’s massive for the club to get to the finals”, he said. “They’ve had their ups and downs since coming into the league, from winning the Conference a few years ago to finishing last place after.”

“The fans know we’re not the biggest club in the world, but they support us greatly. The expectations are realistic and they deserve to come to the party.’’

He hopes the fact Stars were largely overlooked and sometimes written off will be a spur to propel them towards a possible place in the final.

“For a long time, people were down on this group and had us dead and buried in January, but the guys played some great hockey to get us there.

“It was tough for me mentality at that time, but I had to remain upbeat to keep it going and work our way through it. I had to pick the guys up a few times this season and I’m delighted for them.

“Cardiff are a great team, with a group of good veteran guys and they’ve won every trophy going for them so far.

“I have a lot of respect for Andrew Lord) who’s done a great job in the last three seasons.

‘‘We know we’re in for a tough battle, but a 60-minute game in a neutral venue, anything can happen.’’