EDINBURGH CAPITALS square up with Dundee Stars tomorrow in Elite League action on what is sure to be an emotional night at Murrayfield with the retiral of the No.9 jersey made famous by city ice hockey legend Tony Hand MBE.
The shirt will be hung from the rafters of the old rink, with Capitals players wearing specially made replica Murrayfield Racers jerseys, the club where Hand – who stepped down from playing at the end of last season after an incredible career that spanned over 30 years – made his name and played for 14 seasons.
Many former players from the famous Racers teams of the eighties and nineties will be in attendance, as well as former Capitals players who Hand iced for as player/coach in 2003 and then again in 2005.
Present Capitals player-coach Riley Emmerson is “honoured” to be part of the ceremonies, which take place before the 5.30pm face-off, but has warned his players to “focus on the two points”.
With only four points separating top from bottom in the Gardiner Conference, Dundee’s visit is an important clash for the current Murrayfield players.
Emmerson said: “It’s a pretty big night for Tony and the Capitals organisation. It’s a big honour for us to recognise the legend of British ice hockey.
“I think we need to use the fans and the atmosphere to our advantage. As players, though, we need to focus on the task at hand and that’s two points in a big game.
“The standings in our conference are so tight right now. These are two points we definitely need and we cant’ let them slip out of our grasp. We’ve had high-energy practices towards the end of this week and we’re focused. We’ve worked hard to be mentally prepared for this game.”
Tomorrow’s match is Edinburgh’s only game of the weekend, having last been in action a week ago in a 5-3 win over Nottingham Panthers at Murrayfield while Dundee will be playing their third game in as many days, having played at home to Fife Flyers last night before travelling to Manchester Storm today.
Edinburgh will be without Italian internationalist Paul Zanette and Jordan Steel, with recent signing Brandon Coccimiglio rated as doubtful after he failed to return for the third period of the Nottingham game after picking up an injury.
As Caps’ heavy early-season fixture list begins to take its toll – they have played more games than any other team – Emmerson is grateful for the extra rest this week has afforded his “banged up” players. He has warned fans not to expect a tired or lacklustre Stars performance, instead a team led by another strong showing from former Czech international net-minder Vlastimil Lakosil.
Emmerson said: “This week has been good for us and given us more opportunities to rest up. We’ve played more games this season than anyone. We’re definitely banged up right now, and need everybody back as soon as possible.
“Dundee won’t be using the fact that they’ll have played twice already this weekend as an excuse. You can’t come in to a game saying you’re tired. We’ve been in that situation before, playing three in three and we won the game so we need to be ready for them. They’ll be dialled in to being game sharp, and be coming out hard.
“Their goalie won them the game last time we played them (a 3-2 overtime loss in Dundee). We’ve got to make sure we get on him, because he’s one of the reasons they do so well, and bury our chances when we get them.”