Derby fever hits Capitals as Fife Flyers clash looms

Daniel Naslund is returning from injury

Daniel Naslund is returning from injury

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Edinburgh Capitals forward Daniel Naslund has revealed that it didn’t take long for himself and the club’s eight other summer signings to realise that tomorrow’s Challenge Cup clash against Fife Flyers in Kirkcaldy is not just any other game.

Despite the fact Caps have no chance of progressing from Group A after five straight defeats in the competition, Nasland an Co are in no doubt about how much Edinburgh ice hockey fans crave victory from the derby clash.

The Swede, who missed last week’s two losses to Dundee Stars through injury, said: “For new guys like myself it’s been coming from all directions that Fife are our biggest rivals.

“Richard (player-coach Hartmann) has had a big part to play in that, and the guys that have been here a while have done a good job filling us in that these are the games the fans want us to win the most. We’re all geared up to try and make that happen.”

Edinburgh are due to host Fife, who last weekend ignited their own season with impressive wins over Braehead Clan and Belfast Giants, in the same competition on Sunday (face-off 6pm) and Naslund is adamant that the fact both games are in effect dead rubbers, will make no difference to his team-mates as they attempt to build some momentum of their own.

“I don’t think that has any effect whatsoever,” he said: “When it’s your big rival, even if it was an exhibition game, we’d be going all out to get the win. Regardless of who it’s against these matches are a chance for us to improve our game and get it to the level that we want it to be.

“If we can pick up a couple of wins that will really kick-start our season and give us a chance to build up some momentum.”

Naslund was initially told he would be out for four weeks after breaking a finger in last month’s 3-2 league win over Cardiff Devils, but could be in line for a return sooner than expected alongside Joe Grimaldi and Lukas Bohunicky, who have both recovered from injury and been given the all-clear to play tomorrow.

Naslund explained: “I had a call back this week and things are looking good. We’ll see. It’s obviously up to Richard and the management to make a decision for tomorrow’s game but it’s not going to be as much as four weeks which is very good news.”

Meanwhile, with the season now a month old, team co-owner Scott Neil admitted his disappointment at crashing out of the Challenge Cup, but is still hopeful for a strong league campaign in which the club has won two of their opening three games.

Neil said: “We’re obviously disappointed to be out of the cup but, in that time, the club have come through a lot of adversity. We’ve had our fair share of injuries and there was the incident (banning) with Riley Emmerson which set us back considerably both on and off the ice.

“There were a number of factors regarding Reilly’s ban and subsequent successful appeal that I was unhappy with but it would not be right to go public with them at this time.

“We’ve picked up two very good wins in the league at home to Cardiff – whom we did not beat at all last season – and away to Hull, who themselves, after beating Nottingham 6-1, have proven they’re a very good team. Our number-one goal this year was to knock up more league wins and we’ve got to focus on getting ourselves right for that.”