Clan take advantage as Capitals suffer a crisis of confidence

Capitals player Karel Hromas comes close to scoring against Braehead. Picture: Jan Orkisz/SMP

Capitals player Karel Hromas comes close to scoring against Braehead. Picture: Jan Orkisz/SMP

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Edinburgh Capitals co-owner Scott Neil admits his team are in the midst of a “crisis of confidence” after going down 7–2 to Braehead Clan at Murrayfield last night.

But additions or changes are unlikely following a fifth straight defeat.

Capitals were without four key players, and starting No.1 goalie Travis Fullerton, who has just returned from injury, looked uncomfortable at times and is obviously still nursing the hand injured in Edinburgh’s last victory earlier this month against Dundee Stars.

Neil said: “It will be very difficult this week, we’ll be sitting down and having a chat to see what we can do to re-ignite things. There are still a lot of points to play for but we are having a crisis of confidence.

“The frustrating thing is we are over-complicating the game and making high-risk plays rather than trying to keep the game tight, and working towards creating chances that way.

“Looking at the mistakes we made against Braehead and against Fife 24 hours earlier, they should be easily correctable and they’re being made by very experienced players.

“We’re a team that was made up to battle away for each other and it’s difficult for us to carry injuries like we are just now.

“I thought we played decent hockey in the first period, but then in the second we made lots of mistakes both individual and collectively. We used to rebound and win games like last night, but we’re just not doing it right now.”

Caps are next on action on Hogmanay at Murrayfield against Fife, who handed Edinburgh an embarrassing 9-3 hiding in Kirkcaldy on Boxing day and Neil continued: “We really need to assess what we can do against Fife on Saturday, it’s a massive game in front of a big crowd and we need to see who we have who is both physically and mentally fit to play.”

In fairness the margin of Braehead’s victory last night flattered the visitors in what was an entertaining and physical game, marred in the 38th minute when Capitals forward Jared Staal was checked to the head, then suckered punched to the face by Braehead’s Corey Cowick. It was an unsavoury incident and will result in the feisty Canadian being banned for the third time this season. Referee Neil Wilson called time on the second period early and Staal did not return for the remainder of the game.

Edinburgh at that point were trailing 4-1 and were awarded ten minutes of straight power-play time, including a two-man advantage for two minutes when Kyle Warton was sent to the sin bin for hooking. Despite a Michal Dobron slap-shot to briefly pull the score back to 4-2, Edinburgh made no inroads into the deficit, Matt Becca scoring a penalty shot for Clan when he was hauled down on a short-handed breakaway to restore the three-goal cushion.

Edinburgh lead early on through Matt Tipoff, who scored inside two minutes, however, with Edinburgh looking to add to their lead former Capitals player Callum Boyd showed great speed to breakaway, bursting between two Edinburgh defenceman to make it 1-1 five minutes later.

Mike Hammond scored a power-play for the visitors to ensure they went into the first-period break with a 2–1 lead. Garrett Milan and Jacob Johnston went close for Edinburgh before the buzzer.

Recently, Edinburgh have been punished for failing to take the simple option and so it proved again, Pavel Vorobyev stripped of the puck when a straight-forward pass was on offer, leading to a Scott Pitt goal for Clan. Pitt soon added Braehead’s fourth in the 29th minute after the Clan forwards outworked the Edinburgh defence behind Fullerton’s net.

From that point on the physicality increased from both sides, Dobron and Michael D’Orazio landing hits for Edinburgh before the flashpoint involving Cowick and Staal. Cowick looked to take exception to what appeared a legitimate play by Staal to win the puck on the boards, taking matters into his own hands and being promptly dismissed by referee Wilson, who awarded Edinburgh two consecutive five minute major penalties.

Breahead weathered the Caps’ third-period storm and added further late goals through Matt Keith and Daniel Aasberg.