Hartmann calls on Caps fans to be derby heroes

Capitals beat Fife Flyers at Murrayfield last month. Pic: Jan Orkisz/SMP
Capitals beat Fife Flyers at Murrayfield last month. Pic: Jan Orkisz/SMP
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Edinburgh Capitals coach Richard Hartmann is looking for travelling fans to give his players a boost ahead of tomorrow’s Forth derby clash at Fife Flyers – a match he claims “has a bit of everything”.

Edinburgh have struggled in Kirkcaldy in recent times, picking up just one win in nine visits over the last two years. However, they will take confidence from winning five of their last six games as they look to hunt down a play-off spot. That run includes a win over Fife at Murrayfield earlier this month and Capitals’ first ever regulation win in Northern Ireland over Belfast Giants last weekend.

Hartmann said: “Over the last three or four weeks we’ve played pretty good hockey and it gave us a lot of satisfaction to take all four points last weekend. Everyone on this team has a job to do, and we all need to stand up and be counted for us to be successful, and that’s exactly what we’ve been doing.

“It was a great win in Belfast; I think we fully deserved it, the boys played really well.”

The Slovakian veteran praised the small but loud band of travelling supporters who made the trip, continuing: “Travelling fans can give us a boost, especially when they get behind us at critical points in tight games. Belfast was a great example and it was really satisfying to give the supporters that travelled over a good night. Hopefully we’ll see and hear lots of Caps fans in the stands tomorrow and we’ll do our best to make them proud of us.”

In a tight play-off race, ninth placed Edinburgh trail sixth placed Fife by three points with Coventry Blaze and Hull Stingrays sitting in seventh and eighth. Edinburgh currently have two games in hand over Fife and Coventry. However Hull, who are tied with Edinburgh on 39 points, have played three fewer than the Murrayfield men.

Caps complete their weekend on Sunday with a home match-up against Nottingham Panthers (face-off 6pm), but Hartmann know tomorrow’s big game could be crucial.

Hartmann said: “Every game is important for us for sure, but the Fife game has everything. They’re our biggest rivals, they’re in our conference, and they’re one of the teams we are directly competing with for the play-offs. Tomorrow is huge – we’ve been talking about it and preparing all week. I don’t want to say one game is more important than another right now, but we are certainly not thinking about Nottingham until the Fife game is over.

Hartmann revealed that 
injured defensive duo Marcel Patran and Kyle Flemington made a return to training this week and there is a chance both could feature at some point this weekend.

“Physically in practice we’ve been building up slowly, last weekend’s two wins took a lot out of us and we needed rest.

“We’ve tweaked our system and worked on our power-play but really at this stage of the season it’s all about mental preparation. It’s what we’ve focused on and we are ready to play.

“Marcel has started to skate again and Kyle was in the gym and practising. There is a chance that either or both could be playing – we’ll just need to see if they are 100 per cent.”

Come Monday, Capitals’ roller-coaster season will have seven games remaining, of which only two are at home. The fact that Edinburgh are still to play Hull and Coventry both away from Murrayfield suggests the Caps have a tough job to keep pace with the teams above them.

“The guys have proof right in front of them that they can beat any team in this league,” said Hartmann. “If we can win in Belfast we can win anywhere. Right now it’s about playing good hockey and being the best that we can be. If we do that we’ll be in the play-offs. Everything is in our hands.”