Short-benched Edinburgh Capitals battled for a valuable league point at Coventry Blaze last night before eventually losing 3-2 after a mammoth penalty shoot-out at the Sky Dome.
Blaze star sniper Jereme Tendler won the extra point for the home side, scoring a controversial winner in the ninth round of penalties when he appeared to shoot home the rebound after Caps goalie Tomas Hiadlovsky, who stopped 54 shots on the night, had made the initial save.
Capitals forward Jordan Steel, who scored Edinburgh’s opening goal and the club’s first in over 150 minutes of hockey, described the team effort as “completely different” to the disappointing performance in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Hull Stingrays.
Edinburgh, struggling with injuries and suspension, could only ice 11 skaters and Steel said: “The boys in the locker room are absolutely shattered. The difference in performance between Hull on Saturday and tonight was night and day.
“We were a totally different team out there; everyone worked for each other and we came out with a result some people may not have expected. It’s a good point. Coventry are a very good team.”
Steel’s first goal of the season, a short-handed effort in the 14th minute, cancelled out Cale Tanaka’s fourth minute opener for the hosts and he continued: “Prior to this match we’d scored two goals in our last four games and that’s just not good enough.
“I know we only scored two tonight but with the guys we had out that’s a big improvement. We need to use this performance as a benchmark and improve from there.
“It was good to break the scoring drought for both myself and the team. My main aim this season is to put more points on the board and it felt great to get that first goal.”
Edinburgh shocked the home crowd by taking the lead just over a minute later, Rene Jarolin scoring his third goal of the season.
It had been fairly even, but Coventry turned the screw in the second period, firing 27 shots on goal, but did not equalise until early in the third, veteran GB international Ashley Tait scoring in the 41st minute.
Ultimately, after Tendler’s shoot-out winner, it may not have been enough for the Murrayfield men to snap what is now seven straight defeats in all competitions, but the performance still delighted injured player-coach Richard Hartmann. The Slovakian, along with Joe Grimaldi (groin injury) and Jade Portwood (suspension), was one of three influential imports missing for the Caps.
“I was so disappointed with the Hull performance,” said Hartmann: “It was so bad I was calling for changes, but against Coventry it was a complete turnaround.
“We played a hell of a game, blocking shots and working together instead of individuals. Okay we lost on penalties – which I don’t want to talk about because I’ll get a fine – but we still showed what is possible to achieve with a short bench.
“We knew we were going to be short and we worked all week in practice to play a style that compensated for it. On Saturday they didn’t do that, but they set that right last night. All the boys deserve a lot of credit.”
Hartmann, is renowned for rarely praising individual displays over team performances, but could not ignore the weekend heroics of Hiadlovsky, who saved 112 of 116 shots faced: “No question about it Tomas is doing an outstanding job,” he said. “The amount of saves he’s making is unbelievable. I’m so proud of that kid. Against Hull the guys gave him no help at all, but tonight the boys changed all that.”