Julius Nyqvist aims to seize chance with Edinburgh Capitals

Julius Nyqvist played 30 games for KooKoo in his homeland last season
Julius Nyqvist played 30 games for KooKoo in his homeland last season
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Edinburgh Capitals’ new signing Julius Nyqvist admits he hasn’t given up on cracking the big time in his homeland.

The Finnish defenceman made his debut and scored a goal in last weekend’s 6-4 win at Belfast Giants. He hopes lots of ice time at Murrayfield this season will help him prove what he has to offer.

The 24-year-old progressed through the youth teams of Helsinki powerhouses HIFK, winning international caps at under-18 and under-20 level, but he has found it hard to crack the top lines in the highly-skilled Finnish Liga where he played 30 games for KooKoo last season.

Nyqvist said: “I’ve a few friends and people I know who have played over here and they told me good things. Edinburgh have given me an opportunity to get a lot of ice time and that’s what I’m looking for, a chance to play in all situations. Hopefully people take notice. It’s still my dream to go back to Finland and play in the top league there.

“I’m confident with the puck, I’ll make a simple pass, and join the rush later in the play. On the blue line, I love to shoot and try to score as many goals as I can.”

You could be forgiven for thinking Finnish scouts won’t be taking too much notice of what goes on in Britain’s top ice hockey league. However, that will probably change after Nottingham Panthers beat Finnish cracks TPS 2-0 in the Champions Hockey League earlier this week to become the first British club to progress from the group stages to the knockout phase of the competition.

Nyqvist, who hopes to ice for full-strength Edinburgh away at Dundee Stars on Saturday in the Elite League, said: “I saw that result. I think in the CHL all the teams are good and you should expect them to be able to complete with one another. I was a little surprised though, knowing the level of hockey we play in Finland.”

It has been a whirlwind start for Nyqvist, who arrived in Edinburgh last week. Asked to describe his first impressions of British hockey, he said: “The first game in Belfast we played with good speed, a kind of North American style and I liked it. The other game on Sunday (a disappointing 7-3 home loss to Fife Flyers) we were slower, we did a lot of travelling the previous day.”

Both games were in the Challenge Cup but the loss to Fife, which came less than 24 hours after Edinburgh’s first win over Belfast in three years, made it mathematically impossible for Capitals to qualify from Group B, failing to replicate last season’s quarter-final appearance.

To a man, Edinburgh visibly wilted against the tenacity of fiercest rivals Fife, and Caps round off what has been a poor Challenge Cup campaign with a dreaded dead-rubber on Sunday, and their second match in two days against Dundee, this time at Murrayfield (face-off 6pm).

Nyqvist continued: “I think you can put a little of our poor performance to the long journey. I didn’t get to bed until 6am, and we were up playing later that day.”

“Coach (Capitals head coach Dmitri Khristich) said he can accept that we are not going to be at our best every night, but we can’t give up, and need to keep playing right through to the last minute.”

Collective defensive errors were again evident in both games last weekend. Caps have conceded 28 goals in their six competitive games of the season to date, something that must improve if they are to have any chance of fighting for an end-of-season play-off spot.

Nyqvist said: “It’s definitely fixable. It’s just little things we need to change, which will make harder for teams to score against us, and it’ll be easier to win.”