In what was Edinburgh Capitals’ stalwart David Beatson’s last game for the club, the Murrayfield men rounded off their Elite League campaign with a 6-3 home loss to Braehead Clan last night, a win for the visitors that saw them clinch the Gardiner Conference title.
Amidst a throng of injuries and players walking away from their contracts, Capitals finish the season with a run 20 straight defeats, however both teams left the ice to rousing applause after an entertaining physical battle that Braehead only put beyond doubt in the latter stages.
Edinburgh player-coach, Riley Emmerson, believes his players can still hold their heads high, despite the horror run, and he said: “We all committed to a strong effort, especially with it being Beatson’s last game. Whenever he played he worked his bag off for the team, he was great in the locker room and somebody I’m proud to call a friend.”
Emmerson also reserved praise for goalie Craig Mallinson who, along with Kevin Forshall, had taken over netminding duties from season starter Carsen Chubak after the gutsy Canadian finally succumbed to a hip injury he had been playing through for the last four months.
Emmerson, continued: “Mallinson played as great game and made some big saves. At 3-3 we had Braehead on their heels.
“We’ve had a lot of bad results and defeats in a row, but these guys worked so hard every night. I don’t think any team has gone through what we did this year. From our original roster of 13 imports, we had three on the ice last night.
“The guys who came in mid-season worked very hard and I’m sure some of them have opened a lot of people’s eyes for contracts next year.”
On his own future Emmerson, who despite leading Edinburgh to their second lowest Elite league points total in their history is still extremely popular with the fans, said: “We talked about it (next season) a month ago, but we haven’t talked since then.
“I’ve lived and breathed Caps hockey since I’ve been here. I love Edinburgh and I love this rink but it’s not just me, I have my wife and kid to consider. She’s sacrificed so much for me to try and live my dream. I’ll be taking some time to chat with her and see what’s best for us as a family.
“This place can be such a great place to play. It just needs to click and this can be the place everyone wants to come to.”
It was an entertaining, and loud first period, boosted by a massive travelling support. Braehead looked to oblige their fans and opened up a two-goal lead through a long-range effort from Jamie Fritch and Thomas Nesbitt, who wrestled his way through the Edinburgh defence, before smashing a shot past Mallinson from close range.
However, with the shot count at eight apiece in the opening period, Edinburgh were creating chances of their own and Garrett Milan slotted home Caps’ opener, on the rebound in the 15th minute.
The second period saw some early Clan pressure, but Edinburgh took advantage of a power-play to tie the game. Latvian defenceman Nikita Kolesnikovs fired a shot from distance that eluded Clan’s former KHL all-star goalie Chris Holt.
Mallinson made his best save of the night to deny Neil Trimm from point blank range in the 37th minute, but Braehead made it 3-2 from the resulting face-off, Marcus Gotz the scorer.
Clan began the third period in the same way they began the second, camped in the Capitals zone. But a needless penalty given away by Ben Davies gifted Edinburgh a power-play chance, and Caps took full advantage. Trevor Gerling fed Milan who scored a lovely wrap-around goal to make it 3-3.
Parity lasted just five minutes, however. With Jay King in the penalty box for the home side, Braehead scored a well worked power-play goal of their own, some tape-to-tape cross ice passing saw Scott Pitt apply a low finish under a sprawled Malinson with ten minutes remaining.
Caps continued to battle and create chances, however a poor give away by the otherwise excellent Tyler Plews gifted Clan a killer fifth goal, easily dispatched by Braehead captain Matt Keith, before Alex Leavett added Clan’s sixth goal in the final minutes.