Edinburgh Capitals must restore work ethic

Capitals' Curtis Leinweber (in front of netminder) is quickly closed down by the Panthers' defence.  Martin Cingel (on right of Leinweber) waits to pick up a loose puck.
Capitals' Curtis Leinweber (in front of netminder) is quickly closed down by the Panthers' defence. Martin Cingel (on right of Leinweber) waits to pick up a loose puck.
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Bench-coach Jock Hay believes his misfiring Edinburgh Capitals players have come into the new ice hockey season with an attitude that is “too relaxed”, after Nottingham Panthers ran-out 4-2 winners at Murrayfield last night.

Edinburgh Capitals players have come into the new ice hockey season with an attitude that is “too relaxed”, after Nottingham Panthers ran-out 4-2 winners at Murrayfield last night.

The result, coupled with Saturday’s humiliating 10-3 home loss to Sheffield Steelers, leaves Caps the only team in the Elite League without a point, and was their fourth straight defeat in all competitions this year.

Hay said: “Sometimes when you come back for a new season, after having played well in the last one, you’re not up for it enough and far too relaxed, forgetting what it was that made you good in the first place. For us our good run last year was down to some really hard work by all the players, and it’s perhaps something that has to be re-instilled into them because we’re not the most skilful of teams, but hard work can make up for that.”

Despite last night’s defeat to a Panthers team who were minus two of their top defenceman through injury and suspension, Hay felt there were some positives to take away from the game.

He said: “There was a huge difference in the performance. I thought we played much harder and smarter, apart from a couple of early mistakes which cost us goals. You could see there was a lot more effort out there, better positional sense from the players, as well as better decision making. On Saturday the way we played was not acceptable, nothing was working, we were too far apart, and not playing together as a unit. The whole ‘D’ was shown up because the forwards were not working hard enough.”

In what was an even first period, Edinburgh started brightly with Peter Holecko going close, before defensive frailties from the home side handed the advantage to the visitors. Panthers’ Matt Francis was given too much space in front of the net to bury a rebound past Edinburgh goalie Tomas Hiadlovsky at 3:19, before a sloppy Capitals’ line change allowed the same player to set up GB internationalist Robert Lackowicz for the second. Capitals pulled a goal back in the 18th minute, new signing Tomas Horna did well to out-skate the Panthers defence and latch onto a Marc Fowley clearance, before flashing a shot past Panthers net-minder Craig Kowalski.

Nottingham were the better team in the second period, outshooting the hosts 18-8, and, despite Hiadlovsky’s best efforts, they increased their lead through goals from David Clarke and Jonathan Boxill, Edinburgh pulling it back to 4-2 with a power-play goal from Jan Safar.

There were chances at both ends in the third period, Hiadlovsky and Kowalski who both won man-of-the-match honours for their respective sides, doing well to keep all at bay.

Losing in a competitive match to a highly fancied Panthers team, albeit on home ice, is no disgrace, however team co-owner Scott Neil is not happy with his team’s start to the season, and has made a vow to stay-away fans – last night’s attendance despite a healthy travelling support was only 710 – that things will improve.

Edinburgh continue their season with two games this weekend, [at Hull on Saturday and home to Dundee on Sunday] and Neil said: “There’s no doubt about it that on Saturday Sheffield dominated us from start to finish in every area of the ice. Last night I think we’ve rebounded and put in a respectable performance, but again there are no points on the board and that’s what we need to start doing, especially when other teams in our Conference are picking up wins, We really need to get our heads in the game and start playing like we did last year.”

“For me there are two things going on, the teams around us have improved, but the guys we’ve got and the system we are playing are not clicking and you can see that on the ice. Last night, we were better, especially in the third period, you could see some of the moves and passing developing. It’s not far away, but there are a few bits and pieces that are just not firing right now.”

“One thing’s for sure we will be looking for a reaction as we have two very important games coming up beginning with a difficult trip to Hull.”