Edinburgh Capitals’ play-off hopes dented

Capitals' Mason Wilgosh, in front of the netminder, is bundled off the puck by the Manchester defence as Garrett Milan, left, looks on. Picture: Jan Orkisz/SMP
Capitals' Mason Wilgosh, in front of the netminder, is bundled off the puck by the Manchester defence as Garrett Milan, left, looks on. Picture: Jan Orkisz/SMP
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Edinburgh Capitals’ play-off hopes suffered a major blow in a 6-4 defeat by Manchester Storm at Murrayfield last night.

Young British forward Jack Prince, in a league dominated by foreign stars, stole the show with a hat-trick for the visitors.

It was a frustrating night for Edinburgh in front of a bumper crowd, costly errors all over the ice in the second period, described by bench coach Jock Hay as “20 minutes of madness”, handing the visitors two Elite League points.

Edinburgh looked on course to repeat last week’s slender 2-1 win over the same opposition after starting the game well and taking a deserved early lead through Taylor MacDougall three minutes in.

Garrett Milan thought he had doubled Edinburgh’s advantage after his effort from close range crashed off the underside of the bar, the goal lamp came on, however match referee Steve Brown ruled the puck did not cross the line.

A freak Manchester equaliser on 22 minutes and 16 seconds, scored by Prince after the puck rebounded off the face of Capitals player-coach Michal Dobron, right into his path, set the tone for a bizarre second period, which would have been enjoyed by any neutral in attendance as eight goals were shared between the two teams, including a goal of the season candidate scored by Edinburgh captain Jacob Johnston to put Caps 2-1 up less than two minutes later.

Goals were shared between Mason Wilgosh and a second of the game for MacDougall for Edinburgh, with Prince, Paul Swindlehurst and Mark Heatley replying for the visitors.

Manchester grabbed their first lead of the night late in the second period, as Prince, with his third of the game, edged them ahead 5-4. It was surely no coincidence that as soon as Storm held the lead the whole complexion of the game changed. Storm shut up shop. Edinburgh, who had led on four separate occasions, should have put the shutters down much earlier.

In the third period Pavel Vorobyev came closest to tying the game for the home side, his turn and shot with nine minutes to go saved by Storm goalie Mike Clemente, in a period where Manchester, aiming to sucker-punch Caps on the breakaway, looked more likely to score. They eventually fired into an empty Edinburgh net as netminder Travis Fullerton was withdrawn for the extra skater, at 59 minutes and 17 seconds.

“It’s a pretty difficult one to take,” said Hay. “We had a really good first period, but the second was the complete opposite, bad plays put us in trouble, turnovers, and players not picking up their guys. It was 20 minutes of madness.

“We came right back to lead again, but once you score you should be able to shut things down for a couple of shifts and we weren’t able to do that. When we scored we lost a goal almost instantly and that was really annoying.

“Manchester did nothing special. This loss was all of our making; bad errors not always in our end, poor decisions in the attacking zone lead to odd man rushes the other way, they sit back and wait for that and they punish you.”

It was obvious Edinburgh were missing Michael D’Orazio at the back, the Canadian out with a lower body injury suffered in Saturday’s 4-1 loss at Coventry Blaze. However, Edinburgh did play some good stuff but over-complicated at times, which eventually proved their downfall.

Hay continued: “We scored some really nice goals, but that was all negated by the mistakes we made defensively.

“This was a weekend we needed to make up ground on at least one of either Manchester or Coventry and to fall further behind both makes our job really difficult now. Not only do we need to go on a winning run ourselves but we’ll probably be looking for favours from other teams.”