Battling Edinburgh Capitals lose opener in Belfast

Jared Staal was a constant threat for Capitals
Jared Staal was a constant threat for Capitals
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Edinburgh Capitals lost the first half of their Elite League double-header with Belfast Giants 3-0 in Northern Ireland.

GB international forward Colin Shields scored twice for the hosts, including an empty-net goal with 45 seconds remaining to seal the points.

The two sides do battle again tonight and, despite the scoreline, short-benched Edinburgh can be proud of their efforts against a team who now pull to within eight points of league leaders Cardiff Devils.

Missing No.1 net-minder Travis Fullerton, emergency loanee Jordan Marr from EPL side Hull Pirates made his debut at Elite League level and put in an assured performance. The Lochgelly-born goalie, who cut short a family holiday to cover for the injured Fullerton and will back-stop Edinburgh again tonight, picked up the man-of-the-match award for the visitors.

Giants had the majority of the play in the first period. However, Edinburgh played with an intelligence and intensity at the back that Caps player-coach Michal Dobron has been trying to instil in his team from the beginning of the season, keeping the game scoreless after 20 minutes.

It was, however, by no means one-way traffic, Edinburgh breaking when the opportunity arose but missing the pace of Garrett Milan, a surprise omission from the line-up after picking up an upper body injury earlier this week.

Jared Staal and Ian Schultz had both gone close for the visitors before Shields made and scored the opening goal in the 33rd minute. The Glasgow-born winger fore-checked in the Capitals zone, intercepted a pass in the right face-off circle before deflecting a Ryan Martinelli slap-shot beyond Marr.

Shields blighted his copy-book by missing an open goal early in the third period while, at the other end, Staal was denied by young Giants goalie Jackson Whistle, who worked hard for a deserved shut-out, diving across goal to deny the former Carolina Hurricanes’ forward in the 45th minute.

Edinburgh’s experienced Russian winger Yevgeni Fyodorov will be disappointed he refused a simple pass to Jay Kin, before he was stripped on the puck in his own zone, Giants doubling their lead through Steve Saviano with just over ten minutes to play.