Edinburgh Capitals player-coach Riley Emmerson congratulated his players on “one hell of a job” after Saturday’s 6-2 home triumph over Elite League leaders Cardiff Devils.
But he warned of a tough week ahead as Edinburgh prepare for a run of four straight games away from Murrayfield.
He said: “This is a tough barn to come and play in, Cardiff are a very good team but we stuck to our game plan. Everyone stepped up from Carsen (Chubak) right up to Ryan Hayes who had a four-goal game, every line contributed and played great.
“Our Scottish players did one hell-of-a job and that’s the effort we need every night to be successful, but there is still room for improvement and that’s what we’re going to focus on.”
The manner of the win, which was Caps’ fifth straight on home ice, was impressive; not least the performance of Hayes who has now scored 15 goals in 17 games for the American, firmly cementing himself as the current hottest goal-scorer in top-flight British ice hockey.
Edinburgh are next in action at Nottingham Panthers on Wednesday, beginning a run of three games in four nights.
Emmerson added: “We’re a team playing with confidence but every guy in that locker room has been doing a phenomenal job pushing the pace in practice knowing that we need to improve. In the long run that’s the thing that’s going to give us success here.
“A lot of teams play well at home, teams that are going to have a good season are the ones who can sneak points on the road. This trip coming up will be a huge test for us, and the points up for grabs are ones we need.
“I was really pleased with our defensive play on Saturday, it was much better than it has been in the past. We’ve got to make sure we continue to play strong in our own end, and if we do that good things will happen for us offensively.”
The game started as it was to go on, Devils enjoying more time in the Capitals zone, out-shooting Edinburgh 39 to 29 on the night.
However, the home side looked dangerous on the counter, using fast-breaks and long stretch passes to great effect and opened the scoring through a solo goal from Trevor Gerling who collected a pass while skating full pelt and weaving through the Devils defence before firing a low shot through the pads of Cardiff goalie Ben Bowns.
Devils equalised in the 22nd minute, Andrew Hotham scoring after the otherwise excellent Chubak spilled an initial shot from Devils player-coach Andrew Lord.
Edinburgh then turned the game in their favour once again with two goals in less than two minutes from Hayes assisted by line-mates Taylor Dickin and Craig McCallum, giving them a two-goal advantage, before Joey Martin bookended the second period with Devils’ second goal, a cannon of a shot on the power-play giving Chubak no chance.
Devils started the third period with their tails up and looked the more likely scorers before a Hotham trip to the penalty box for cross-checking proved costly for the visitors, Paul Zanette punishing Cardiff on the power-play with a quick snap shot in the 49th minute.
The game was put to bed two minutes later, Hayes completing his hat-trick with a now trademark snipe after Bowns had done well to stop a McCallum effort, before scoring Edinburgh’s sixth into an empty net with just 90 seconds remaining.
After a four-goal night, cocooned in a great team performance, its only fitting Hayes should have the final word: “We had one game this week, which meant just one objective. We knew what a good team they were coming in and we had to execute our game plan. I wouldn’t say it was conformable even at 5-2 they could’ve come back at any time, and we were still worried but we played well and got the two points.”