Edinburgh Capitals’ miserable start to the ice hockey season continued as they lost 3-1 to Cardiff Devils in an Elite League fixture at Murrayfield last night. The result consigned the Caps to just one win in their first ten games, and it was their fifth straight defeat in all competitions.
However, player-coach Richard Hartmann, whilst admitting his team were badly in need of a quality goal-scorer, refused to criticise his team’s performance describing it as “a step in the right direction.”
Hartmann said: “I’m not happy that we lost the game, but I’m happy with how we played, if you compare tonight to how we have played recently the performance was like night and day,definitely a step in the right direction. We can take positives from this; the guys gave it their best shot.
“We need to find that guy who is going to be our big goal-scorer, and make the right play at that crucial time because right now it’s obvious we are struggling to score. We’ve not managed to replace Rene Jarolin (former Capitals’ forward, who over the last two years, led the team in scoring) – he was a player who guaranteed you 70 points a season.”
Thanks to an on-line ticket promotion the match was played out in front of a bumper crowd of more than 1700 and Hartmann urged increasingly impatient fans to continue to stick with the team despite their struggles.
He said: “We know what way we need to go, we have a new training programme in place and I’m confident that in a few weeks we will be one of the strongest skating teams in the league, especially at home. Tonight was only our fifth league game, there’s still a long season and a lot of hard work ahead, the guys are a little bit down because we have not been winning, and some people around us are beginning to panic, but I am not.”
After having been shut out in their previous two games, Saturday’s 5-0 Challenge Cup loss to Fife Flyers in Kirkcaldy, and last week’s heavy 7-0 home defeat to Braehead Clan, Edinburgh ended their goal drought at just shy of 140 minutes when Jade Portwood was on the end of a slick pass from Michal Dobron to slot the opening goal past Cardiff goalie Dan LaCosta in the 18th minute. It was a short lived lead as one minute later, Devils’ GB international forward, and man-of-the-match Ben Davies, showed some quick hands to bamboozle Caps’ defenceman Jan Safar before rifling a fierce low shot past net-minder Tomas Hiadlovsky . It was the first of three goals in just under six minutes from the Welsh outfit, Canadian forward Mac Faulkner cleverly deflecting a Tyson Marsh slap-shot, before Davies grabbed his second goal of the night, with a short-handed marker to complete the scoring at 24.45.
With more than half the game remaining, a two-goal deficit, especially when playing on home ice, should not be seen as insurmountable, but with Edinburgh yet to win at home this season, Capitals captain Martin Cingel admitted his side are letting their heads go down far too quickly when falling behind.
He said: “It’s getting harder and harder, the pressure is on us to pick up a win. We have a lot of experienced guys here and that should be enough to get us through this. We need to get back to basics – that’s key to getting our confidence back in front of goal. We just need a couple of breaks to go our way and score some scrappy goals to get us going.
“When we get scored on our heads go down and we have to stop that. In ice hockey, to be behind by one goal is nothing. Tonight we conceded one goal and the second and third soon followed, our heads went down a little bit and that can’t happen anymore. We’ve been playing for five weeks now and we need to start picking up points, and to do that we need to concentrate from start to finish and not lose two or three goals in quick succession. We did that tonight and that’s what lost us the game.”