Edinburgh CAPITALS ice hockey team enjoyed their Christmas night out this week, but forward Bari McKenzie now expects the season of goodwill to be a ghost of Christmas past as his team begin a stretch of five games away from their Murrayfield home, beginning with an Elite League match against Cardiff Devils today.
He said: “Cardiff is a very hard place to go and play, they’re a physical team and they like to play the body as much as they can.”
The Devils are notoriously difficult to beat on their own ice and McKenzie continued: “The fact the rink is that small makes if tricky, and they’ve got some big players like Brad Voth and Chris Frank. They’re a very good team in their own barn and I think it will be a very difficult game for us.”
Sunday sees McKenzie and his team-mates then make the 100-mile journey from the Welsh Capital to the West Midlands to face the Coventry Blaze who last week announced they were in serious financial difficulty.
The two teams fought out a 2-2 tie in Edinburgh earlier this month, the Blaze eventually winning after penalty shots and McKenzie observed: “I think it will be a different game from the last time we played, as this is their home rink. They’ve got a bit of a cash flow problem this year, I don’t know if that will be affecting the players or not.
“Obviously we’re going to try and win both games this weekend; we’re just going to give it our best shot.”
Capitals are hoping Slovakian defensive duo Martin Petrina and Tomas Valecko return from injury but McKenzie revealed team tough-guy Jozef Sladok will not feature.
He added: “Petrina and Valecko have been skating this week and should be back. Hopefully Jozef will be back soon as he’s a big player for us as well.”
Last season, due to lack of funds, a glut of players left the Capitals resulting in the team struggling and ultimately finishing rock bottom of the Elite League. But there has been something of a renaissance this term with McKenzie, now in his second season at the club, clearly enjoying his hockey again and already scoring ten goals.
On a return to his team being competitive, he said: “It’s a great feeling, everybody at the club from Scott and Matthew down [club owners Scott Neil and Matthew Tailford] are so up-beat, no disrespect to anyone, but the whole organisation this year is a lot better.”