In the unlikely event any Edinburgh Capitals fan did not appreciate the great play of starting net-minder Travis Fullerton so far this season, they will now as Caps were embarrassed 10-3 at Dundee Stars last night.
Fullerton, who played a big role in Capitals’ 4-3 home victory over Stars on Saturday, was absent from the Dundee Ice Arena last night, suffering a hand injury.
Long time club servant Kevin Forshall stepped into the breach, and unfortunately was given no help from a lacklustre defensive performance which highlighted what has been the Achilles’ heel of this season’s Capitals team.
Stars, who themselves were missing the influential services of club captain Joey Sides, Craig Cescon and Cale Tanaka, won this at a canter, leading after the first period 5-1. The home-side fired 18 shots on Forshall, as his team around him appeared to give up the ghost before a puck was dropped. Under the circumstances, defensively this should have been an all-hands-to-the-pump team performance from the off, instead Caps opened up in an appalling manner, refusing to close down Stars skaters in front of a goalie who in terms of game time was coming in ice cold.
Stars’ defenceman Kevin Hart scored with the first shot of the game after 23 seconds, followed closely by Cameron McGiffen who was first to his own rebound after Forshall failed to hold his initial effort. Stars were three up after Dutch internationalist Kevin Bruijsten had a tap-in finish following a three-on-one breakaway, before Edinburgh captain Jacob Johnston, with a lovely individual goal, weaved his way across the ice to flick a backhand finish beyond Joe Fallon in the Dundee net to put Caps on the board in the 12th minute.
Any joy for the visitors was short lived, however, after a poor giveaway from Pavel Vorobyev behind his own goal line led to the puck being recycled back to the blue-line towards Felix-Antoine Poulin. His effort came back off the post and straight to Dundee’s hard-nosed forward Justin Fayrna for another tap-in finish.
Dundee, in the words of coach Mark Lefebvre, “fell asleep” in the second period, Edinburgh scoring twice through Jared Staal and a short-handed effort from Karel Hromas.
Normal service was resumed in the third, however, as the short-benched Stars once again ran riot, scoring five without reply. Bruijsten added a further three goals for an impressive five-goal haul, and Ben Edmonds and Mikael Lidhammar completed the scoring in front of a Dundee crowd that, such was the lopsidedness of the contest, had been stunned into silence for much of the night.
Edinburgh, who are next in action on Thursday with the first of two games in as many days at Belfast Giants, will need a completely different mindset defensively if they are to avoid further humiliation in Northern Ireland, especially if Fullerton is still not fit enough to play.
Capitals co-owner, Scott Neil, remained tight lipped on the extent of Fullerton’s injury but it would appear unlikely, especially this time of year, that emergency cover will be brought in.
Neil said: “I don’t have a full diagnosis yet, once we know more we’ll see where we are. We just need to be hopeful and remain optimistic he’ll be back in time for our next games. He’s hugely important to us and we need to get him back as soon as possible.”
Forshall, hugely popular amongst the club’s fan base, is a better goalie than he showed last night but with a full-time job – and as the Elite League continues to improve year on year – it is surely too much to ask that he step in at this level and keep Edinburgh competitive for 60 minutes.
A busy December has been described as a month that can make or break Edinburgh’s season and the club’s decision to continue to take the position of back-up goalie lightly could be their downfall in their efforts to climb off the foot of the Elite League.