Murrayfield ice rink plays host to “Hogmanay Hockey” tomorrow and Edinburgh Capitals player-coach Richard Hartmann believes his side can get the party started early with victory against their oldest and fiercest rivals, Fife Flyers (face-off 3pm).
The Edinburgh club are desperate to end a six-game losing streak, something the Slovakian firmly believes should have been put to bed on Tuesday night when Capitals, leading 3-1 against the Cardiff Devils, crumbled in the last ten minutes to lose 5-3.
He said: “In every game we have to play together for 60 minutes, the five guys who are out on the ice must work for one another. Last time out we didn’t do that in the final ten minutes and that’s why we lost.”
December has been a difficult month for the Capitals, with nine defeats in their 11 games this month, and Hartmann is relieved to have had a few days to focus his players on the task at hand. He said: “We’ve had a busy month, with a lot of travelling.
“We’ve now had a few days to rest and practice, working on our skating skills and building our confidence back up after losing so many games on the road. We’re ready for this game.”
Both clubs will be playing short, Flyers without their top defenceman Ben Cohen, who is out with concussion, while Hartmann revealed Capitals expect to be without their experienced Slovakian import Martin Petrina for at least two more weeks as he recovers from a knee injury.
He said: “Petrina, he’s not fit for sure, I’m guessing he will be out for a minimum of two more weeks, he’s so unhappy as he has been really unlucky with injuries this season, sometimes this happens in hockey and hopefully he will be back fit again soon.”
Fife Flyers, in their debut Elite League season, currently sit bottom of the table with ten points, and only three wins from 26 games.
Fife management admitted they made a mistake in underestimating the quality of the league and what it would take to put a competitive team on the ice. This has now been addressed with the December signings of ex-Dundee Stars player-coach Dan Ceman and Canadian defenceman Tim Maxwell, who spent last season playing in Norway’s top flight for Valerenga.
Edinburgh, despite their winless streak, remain in seventh place in the standings, with 21 points from 29 games, but have fallen eight points behind Braehead Clan in sixth, and are now only one point ahead of Hull Stingrays after they posted an impressive midweek 3-1 victory over Coventry Blaze.
The Murrayfield men will be wary of the fact that the Kirkcaldy outfit, with both new signings in tow, come into the game on the back of a 2-1 home victory over Dundee Stars, in front of over 2000 fans, and Hartmann is hoping for a bumper crowd in Edinburgh to help create that special derby day atmosphere.
He said: “The atmosphere has been great at Murrayfield, our last match was a perfect example, and we hope for more of the same tomorrow, with the fans supporting us.
“We will try everything to make sure we give them the win.”