JADE PORTWOOD today urged Edinburgh Capitals to stop pressing the panic button after they suffered their seventh straight ice hockey defeat.
Following Saturday’s 8-5 loss away to Cardiff Devils, they were edged out 3-2 by Gardener Conference rivals Braehead Clan last night, despite leading twice and drawing a string of late power-play opportunities.
The result, coupled with Saturday’s setback, left a bad taste in the mouth of Capitals forward Portwood, who said: “It was the same story as Saturday when we built up a 4-2 lead. We’re playing hard until we get in front and then we kind of panic, everyone stops skating and before you know it we lose a couple of goals and we have to go back to playing catch-up. It’s really frustrating.
“We played a better third period – especially the last ten minutes – but that was because we were desperate for a goal. Those final ten is how we should be playing for the whole game.
“It was another really good 40-minute effort, but 60 is what it takes. This weekend we gave ourselves a chance of two wins and four league points, but we didn’t get anything because we played 80 minutes of hockey instead of 120.”
In what grew into an increasingly feisty and physical encounter, referee Rab Cowan handed out 57 minutes of penalties, the majority of which were called in the final minutes, including a five plus game for Clan forward Ed McGrane for cross-checking. Edinburgh failed to press home their numerical advantage, firing only seven third-period shots at Clan net-minder Kyle Jones.
An upset Portwood continued: “The blame there lies squarely with our leaders. That’s why we’re out there, it’s our job to score power-play goals and get the team back in the game and when we don’t do it we’re not doing our job. It was pretty embarrassing out there at times. We couldn’t even get it set up.”
Recent Canadian arrival Les Reaney felt Edinburgh had done enough to deserve something from the game and cited the team’s performance as a big improvement from the one in which he made his home debut three weeks ago – a 7-0 defeat by the same opposition.
He said: “Since I’ve been here, this weekend has been the best two games we’ve put together. It’s a tough one to lose, but we raised the bar tonight and that’s what everyone should expect to see from us for the rest of the year.
“Tonight for me was more like a North American hockey game. The intensity was up and it was rough and tough. It gets the boys going. It helps me, I just play off adrenaline when that kind of stuff’s going on, the fans are into it, you can feel the atmosphere in the rink and it’s just fun to be a part of.”
Edinburgh took the lead in the final minute of the opening period. Reaney, parking himself at the edge of the crease, was first to the rebound after an initial Portwood effort was saved.
Braehead got on the board early in the second period. Clan man-of-the-match Joel Champagne grabbed his first of two power-play goals on the night, beating Michal Dobron to a loose puck before finishing smartly through the legs of Capitals goalie Tomas Hiadlovsky. Dobron then put the home side back in front on the half hour, firing a slap-shot from just inside the blue line that arrowed into Jones’ top right-hand corner.
Edinburgh’s second lead of the game was fleeting at best, Clan squaring the game at two apiece 90 seconds later, Kevin Bergin finishing off a nice passing move involving McGrane and Shane Lust. Champagne’s second goal, in the 35th minute, gave Clan the 3-2 advantage, which was enough to give the visitors the spoils.