Coach Jock Hay hailed a “vastly improved” defensive performance from Edinburgh Capitals despite the Murrayfield men’s Challenge Cup misery continuing with a 2-1 home defeat by Fife Flyers after penalty shots.
Caps – already without a chance of progressing to the competition’s knockout stage – were denied their first win in Group A last night by Flyers hero Bobby Chaumont, who levelled the game with only two minutes remaining before scoring the only goal in the shoot-out to give the visitors victory.
It was the second defeat by their rivals in a double-header weekend, the first game ending 5-1 to Flyers in Kirkaldy on Saturday.
Edinburgh bench-coach Hay stressed there were many positives for the Capitals to take into their Elite League campaign which resumes this weekend.
“It’s a sore loss, especially as I thought we dominated them for the majority of the game,” said Hay: “We created a lot of opportunities to score but just didn’t get the bounce of the puck in front of the net. It was a vast improvement in our play over the last couple of weeks.
“We’ve been conceding too many goals of late. We have a good defence so that shouldn’t be happening. On game nights we’ve had three or four guys playing in our zone and one or two not playing their position properly or picking up their guys, we’ve been working on it in training and last night it was a lot better.
“We played more like a unit. We had five guys playing and supporting each other and that makes a big difference to our game.”
With Edinburgh having nothing but pride to play for and Fife safely through to the quarter-final, the match should have been a tame affair. However, it proved to be an entertaining game, helped by a large vocal travelling support who ensured there was a real derby feel.
Capitals forward Jade Portwood, who at times seemed embroiled in a personal duel with Flyers’ excellent net-minder Kevin Regan, opened the scoring in the 31st minute, finishing well after good work from line-mates Jordan Steel and Rene Jarolin. “I thought that was the best 60 minutes we’ve played this season and we should have won,” said Portwood:
“I probably had six glorious chances to score and finally managed to bury one. Scoring goals has been our problem all weekend but I think our game is coming around all over the ice and soon these chances will start going in for us.
“It was a pretty intense game; both teams were skating and battling hard. We tried a bit towards the end and made a couple of mistakes, fair play to them they scored late on and took the game to the shoot-out. I think if I had been a paying fan I would have enjoyed watching it.”
Edinburgh benefited from the return of Lukas Bohunicky and Daniel Naslund from injury; however Joe Grimaldi, who was thrown out of Saturday’s match for abuse of an official, did not ice, and Caps certainly tired in the third period, especially after losing player-coach Richard Hartmann to a knee injury.
Edinburgh, who looked so dangerous prior to Portwood’s goal, created little after going in front, a fact Regan, who won man-of-the-match for the visitors, felt was crucial in Fife ultimately coming out on top.
“We just kind of hung around to be honest,” he said. “Their goalie played really well, but with just one goal in it we were always in the game and we just got a lucky break at the end.
“If they had scored a second one we probably would have been dead, but after they scored we tightened things up at the back and kept it close, and the guys picked it up in the final period to get the equaliser.”