Capitals are fired up for Belfast double-header

Ryan Hayes, right, has faced some rough treatment in recent weeks. Pic: Jan Orkisz/SMP

Ryan Hayes, right, has faced some rough treatment in recent weeks. Pic: Jan Orkisz/SMP

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Forward Ryan Hayes admits training has been a battlefield this week as Edinburgh Capitals prepare for their weekend home double-header with Belfast Giants (both matches 5.30pm).

Hayes revealed the Caps players have been taking their frustrations out on each other following last Sunday’s humiliating 10-2 home defeat by Braehead Clan.

Ahead of tomorrow’s opener, Hayes said: “We’ve been battling each other a lot harder. There’s been a lot more intensity to our practises after Sunday. We’re all upset with one another and we’ve been working hard to be ready for Belfast.

“We’ve been getting away from our game of late, doing our own thing and not paying attention to our ‘D’ zone. This needs to stop. We need to come together as a team.”

And, as eighth-placed Edinburgh reach the midpoint of their Elite League campaign – tomorrow will be the 26th of their 52-game season – Hayes continued: “It’s a huge weekend. Two home games is always an advantage in the scheduling. We need to put last week in the past. Obviously, we were embarrassed but we’re coming out with the mentality, even though Belfast are a team with a ton of experience, that we can win both games. We need to get back to playing our style. Last week was one bad game. We still have half a season to play. This team has talent, experience and all the other ingredients you need to win.”

With the benefit of hindsight, a heavy defeat was perhaps on the cards for Edinburgh – who have lost their last three games – as opposing coaches work out how to neutralise their attacking flair. This often includes handing out some rough treatment to Hayes, who currently leads the league in goals with 24 from 32 games in all competitions. But, of course, teams are also exposing the Caps’ defensive frailties. Edinburgh currently have the worst defensive record in the Elite League, conceding 116 goals in the league alone. Hayes admits the club’s forwards could do more to help out at the back. “We do have experience and we, as forwards, know what we have to do to help the defence. We were lazy all around the ice last Sunday night. The things we did wrong were preventable.”

Hayes is also aware that the ‘special treatment’ he’s received of late has been having the desired effect with the explosive goalscorer receiving major penalties in three of his last five games. He said: “Some teams pick me out, some teams don’t. It’s a coaching decision, I guess. I’ve been getting frustrated out there, but I’ve got to a better job because I’m hurting the team when I’m not on the ice. I’ve go to be better at staying focused on the game and the task at hand which is always a win and two points for the team.”

Italian internationalist Paul Zanette returns from injury tomorrow after missing the Caps’ last ten games. However, they will be without injured forward Brandon Coccimiglio.

Teenage defenceman Jay King could be in line for a return after representing Great Britain Under-20s in division 1B of the World Championships in France this week, where GB’s young guns exceeded expectations despite narrowly missing out on promotion after winning three of their four games.