Edinburgh Capitals were thrashed 8-2 at Coventry Blaze last night, but back-up goalie Craig Holland, making his first start of the season, insisted he loved every minute after only being told en route to the game that he was playing.
The 21-year-old, covering for Tomas Hiadlovsky, who strained his groin during Saturday’s 3-2 home defeat to Fife Flyers, believes Edinburgh simply ran out of gas after trailing Blaze by a single goal at the halfway point.
“Hiadlo gave me a quiet word on Saturday night telling me he was a bit sore, but it was confirmed on the bus to the game that I was playing, but the fact that Tomas had given me that wee heads up helped,” said Holland. “We were doing all right up until midway through the game, at 3-2 we were still very much in it, we lost a couple of goals late in the second period which hurt us. They were running three lines, while we were short benched and definitely tiredness caught up with us in the third.”
Holland, who admitted doubting his ability to play at this level after a season where he has seen so little action, can hold his head high despite the scoreline, making 35 saves.
He said: “After sitting out for so long it’s a good feeling to get the shout, play a full game and face plenty of shots. When you haven’t played you begin to doubt that you’re able to step in like this, but I felt I made a few good saves out there.
“It’s never good to lose eight goals but the boys were telling me that I was playing well and to keep my head up as the goals that were going in weren’t my fault.
“It’s hard to have gone this far in the season without playing; the guys have been keeping me on my toes in training but it takes a wee while to get up to the speed of a real game.”
Caps were missing experienced defenceman Michal Dobron, who, after icing on Saturday, a club source revealed will have limited playing time for the remainder of the season because of a persistent knee injury.
Blaze were leading 2-0 through early goals from forwards Adam Henrich and Ryan Ginand, before Richard Hartmann pulled one back for Edinburgh in the 18th minute. Michael Henrich for the home side and Curtis Leinweber for Edinburgh traded goals to keep the contest alive deep into the second period, but that was as good as it got for the Caps as Blaze turned the screw to score five unanswered goals and run out comfortable winners.
Last night was another indication that Edinburgh must invest in their defence if they hope next year to improve on what has been at times an embarrassing season. A tired Holland enjoyed his experience but is full of admiration for Hiadlovsky, who is expected to return to the side this weekend against Braehead Clan. He said: “It’s very tough, facing 30-plus shots every night. When you look at his stats it doesn’t reflect the way he’s been playing. He’s been brilliant for us.”