With nothing but pride to play for, Edinburgh Capitals’ goalie Tomas Hiadlovsky felt his team benefited from playing “without pressure” at Murrayfield last night, beating Braehead Clan 2-0 and splitting the weekend series between the two teams.
Braehead, who had edged out Edinburgh 2-1 in Glasgow on Saturday, could find no way past an inspired Hiadlovsky, who made 33 saves, including a penalty shot with 20 seconds remaining, for his first shutout in a Caps jersey – and the club’s first since 2008.
“Everybody played very well. We played like a real team and deserved the two points,” said Hiadlovsky: “It was one of our best performances of the season – we seemed to enjoy the game and were playing without pressure as we can no longer make the play-offs.”
Edinburgh certainly did not play like the match was a dead rubber, Jade Portwood typifying what was an all round good team performance, putting his body on the line to block shots, whilst Canadian Curtis Leinweber, with two goals on the night, brought his tally to 25 for the season.
Hiadlovsky continued: “Braehead are a good team, and very strong in the corners, but they spent too much time there. Our coverage was perfect, we did a good job of clearing rebounds and everybody took on their man, meaning they couldn’t create too many chances right in front of the net.”
The result, which dents Braehead’s chances of running down Dundee Stars to retain the Gardiner Conference, delighted Capitals player-coach Richard Hartmann, who said: “The guys played great this weekend, even on Saturday with a bit of luck we could have got ourselves a point and last night we just carried on with that same level of effort.
“Braehead is a good team, we played very well in the neutral zone and that makes all the difference for us. We made the odd bad pass, but overall I’m really pleased with the performance and delighted for the boys.
“They showed character and played for each other and that’s how hockey is supposed to be.”
Braehead enjoyed the majority of the play, Edinburgh only mustering 16 shots on Clan goalie Kyle Jones, but Leinweber opened the scoring for the home side midway through the first period, when he was on hand to tuck in a rebound after point-blank efforts from Portwood and Hartmann had been saved. Clan had the puck in the net in the final minute of the second period, but referee Neil Wilson had blown for a stoppage just as the puck crossed the line and the goal was chopped off.
In the 45th minute and with Capitals’ captain Martin Cingel in the penalty box, Leinweber broke up ice to score an unassisted shorthanded goal giving Edinburgh a much needed two-goal advantage as Braehead continued to press.
In an exciting end to the game, players from both teams were given penalty shots; first off Jones got the better of Capitals Latvian forward Marzis Zembergs, before, in the game’s final minute Clan forward Neill Trimm was brought down when through on goal, but Hiadlosvsky saved the effort.
Edinburgh have only one game to prepare for this week, on Saturday away to Fife Flyers, who, after a dramatic turn-around in form, are now just two points outside a play-off spot.
Hartmann concluded: “Before we think about our next game the boys need to rest and take a day or two to have some fun, they’ve played well this weekend and they deserve to enjoy this moment.”