RILEY EMMERSON is expecting big things from Ned Lukacevic after the Edinburgh Capitals forward put in an impressive display on his debut at Braehead Clan.
While the Caps lost 2-1 in a tight game, there was plenty to be positive about from the Murrayfield coach in the aftermath.
And Emmerson is pleased to have filled the gap left by the unexpected departure of Craig McCallum so soon.
He said: “Losing Craig McCallum was tough for us when it became clear he was homesick and he wanted to go home.
“Getting Ned was a good pick up for us and I had been talking to him after he left Coventry. We all know the kind of player he is and was someone we were keen to bring in.
“He’s a high calibre player and he’ll fit into our style well and I thought he had a great game considering he hadn’t been on the ice for two weeks.
“Ned will give us depth and I expect he’ll improve in the coming weeks as he plays more on the line with Taylor Dickin and Ryan Hayes.”
After the heroics of Friday when the Capitals came from 3-0 down to take full points from Cardiff Devils, this was always going to present a different test.
Braehead, a side that have had their own struggles this season, were fresh from a 1-0 overtime loss to the Welsh side on home ice the night before.
So it was important Edinburgh made more of their away form and getting points from Ryan Finnerty’s side was far from an impossible task.
Lukacevic made his debut in Caps colours following his move from Coventry Blaze and fitted right in as he pestered the Braehead defenders.
The forward line has been a key strength for Emmerson this season, but the defensive lines have been a problem all the way through the campaign.
The Capitals have not conceded less than two goals in any game and that continued as they had lost two before the end of the first period.
Dickin and David Rutherford forced a couple of early saves on Clan goalie Chris Holt, but his glove prevented any early headway from Riley Emmerson’s men.
The Caps found the breakthrough after 12 minutes on the powerplay when Jacob Johnston assisted in Ryan Hayes’ sweeping the puck into the Clan net.
Caps’ lead didn’t last four minutes when Zach Sullivan fed the puck into the centre and was eventually finished by Tristan Harper for the equaliser. Then Braehead had the lead as a scramble in the crease fell to Chris Bruton, who finished off as Chubak struggled to cover.
The game seemed flat at times as both sides failed to really drive at each other, but it was far from a foregone conclusion.
Clan gave Chubak one or two things to worry about up the other end as well as Matt Keith was played through with a devastating through pass. The Braehead captain looked up and tried to outsmart the Edinburgh netminder, but found his shot hitting off the outside of the post.
Nate Fleming had Edinburgh’s best chance in the third, when a loose puck fell to him right in front of Holt, but Clan’s goalie blocked with authority.
Kyle Bigos’ penalty – two minutes each for slashing and roughing – weakened Caps in the final minutes.
Emmerson was much happier with his defence after losing 14 in his last two matches, but reckons Bigos’ penalty near the end is one to learn from.
He added: “We were a lot better defensively tonight and I thought we took care of the puck well. Our work ethic was there too and it was those two little mistakes that cost us.
“Kyle’s penalty late on was tough for us so late in the game and given we were still involved at that point.
“To lose him for four of the last five minutes was testing and we need to be a bit smarter in situations like that in the long run.
“He was tough on himself after it, but we got through it and it was one we could have avoided.”