Jade Portwood declared “winning is all that matters” after Edinburgh Capitals completed their third ice hockey victory in a week with a 4-3 penalty-shot victory over a physical Coventry Blaze side at Murrayfield last night.
Portwood scored to take the shoot-out into sudden death then grabbed the winner after Caps goalie Tomas Hiadlovsky saved five out of six Blaze attempts.
In a match where Coventry were their own worst enemy, handing Edinburgh 12 power-play opportunities, Portwood admitted the home side had plenty of chances to win the game in regulation, but that was a discussion for another day as Edinburgh players celebrated a result that took them off the bottom of the Elite League table.
Portwood, the only Caps player to score in the shoot-out, said: “I managed to tie things up by scoring on the blocker side. The second time around the boys on the bench were telling me the goalie was cheating a little to that side, and I figured he thought I would try and do the same thing again, so I went to my back hand and managed to find the top shelf. I’m just glad the boys got the win because we deserved it.
“They’re a pretty scrappy team, very physical. I thought we had a good first period but in the second they took over with their physical style of play but they took some penalties which hurt them. Physicality isn’t really our style but I thought we battled hard.
“We definitely had opportunities to put the game to bed, I think we had four five-on-three power-plays, but at the end of the day we won the game and that’s all that matters.”
Capitals led 2-1 after the first period with power-play goals from player-coach Richard Hartmann and captain Martin Cingel, with Kevin Harvey replying for the visitors in the 20th minute. Star Blaze forward Shea Guthrie scored a wonderful end-to-end solo goal to tie the game at 2-2 in the 23rd minute. Jan Safar for the home side, and Ryan Ginand for the visitors, then traded goals in the third period to take the game to overtime.
Hartmann, whose powerful slap-shot opened the scoring, was delighted with the win and believed Edinburgh’s strong showing in Saturday’s 3-1 derby victory over Fife Flyers in Kirkcaldy was key to last night’s success.
Hartmann said: “Saturday was a great win in Fife and gave the boys a real boost, reminding them that we can play with any team in this league. We’ve just come through a period of matches where we stepped away from the game plan, but we seem to be coming back to it and we need to have a strong finish right through until the end of the season.”
Paying homage to defenceman Danny McIntyre, who sat out injured last night after received 14 stitches to a head would sustained when blocking a shot against Fife, Hartmann continued: “Doing all the little things right can lead to big things on the ice and sometimes when we do that the end product is unbelievable. Things like getting your stick in to disrupt the play, or using your body to block a shot. Those are the things that make the difference. It was a great effort from Danny on Saturday to block that shot. We missed him last night but I was delighted how we all stepped up to cover for him.”
Coventry coach Matt Soderstrom felt his side were given nothing by referee Rab Cowan, who called 16 infractions on Blaze players amounting to 56 penalty minutes, particularly when Safar appeared to trip Ginand in overtime but nothing was called. Soderstrom said: “We were getting penalised for being bigger and stronger and in hockey you shouldn’t be punished for that. If the referee sees it as a penalty then he has to call it, but we didn’t get anything going our way.
“Ginand is almost on a breakaway in overtime, it was a blatant trip and we got nothing. I guarantee if that would have been us there would have been a penalty. It’s something that we need to rise above but It get’s hard and frustrating when you’re not allowed to play your style of hockey.”