As Edinburgh Capitals depart on a 400 mile each-way bus ride to Wales for tomorrow’s Elite League ice hockey match with Cardiff Devils, club skipper Martin Cingel reckons it will all be worth it if his team can pull off a positive result.
Edinburgh, who currently sit ninth in the ten-strong league, three points outside a play-off place, were comfortably beaten 6-3 by the Welsh outfit, who lie fourth, when the two sides last met at Murrayfield earlier this month.
Cingel, whose side then face a must-win home clash with Gardiner Conference rivals Hull Stingrays on Sunday (face-off 6pm), said: “We were three down after ten minutes and it cost us the game – that just can’t happen tomorrow.
“Cardiff, especially at home, jump on you right away, and look to score two or three quick goals and take control, so we will need to be ready for that and be prepared for a hard physical battle right from the first face-off. They have a small rink down there and their team is built for that. Lots of hard hitting and dump and chase tactics. It will be very tough, but we will be ready.”
With 19 league games remaining, the experienced Slovakian, who has spent ten years with the club, is adamant Edinburgh can grab a play-off spot, but admits there can be no more defeats like last Sunday’s 4-3 home loss to Dundee Stars.
He said: “With 19 games and 38 points to play for we’re still right in the mix for a play-off spot. The key for us is we can’t afford to lose more matches against the teams closest to us – Dundee, Hull or Fife – and do our best to be in a position to pick up points from the likes of Cardiff and the other big teams. It was never going to be easy, but if we want to reach the play-offs it needs to be done.”
Hull, who travel to Glasgow tomorrow to face-off against Braehead Clan, may prop up the league table, but they are only a single point behind Edinburgh and have played three games fewer.
A wary Cingel said: “Not only will they be out for revenge after we beat them in Hull last time we met, but they are in the same position as us, fighting for points.
“It’s a key game for both clubs and I know their coach [Sylvain Cloutier] will have his players pumped up. This is such a tough weekend, especially with all the travelling. It’s important that we prepare ourselves properly and try and get as much rest as possible.”
Edinburgh will be boosted by the return of Slovakian forward Peter Holecko and, due to a combination of late recruitment and injuries, player-coach Richard Hartmann will be in a position to ice his full quota of 11 import players, which include seven forwards, for only the fourth time in 39 matches.
Hartmann said: “I’m looking at what changes I can make to the lines. Certainly things haven’t been going how they’re supposed to, and I have a few ideas in mind, but I’ve still to decide what adjustment I can make that will be of the most benefit to the team.”
Hartmann will not be doing any significant tinkering with the team’s two power-play units despite failing to score with the man advantage on seven occasions last time out against Dundee. He said: I don’t want to change things up on our power-play too much.
“With the exception of the game against Dundee our power-play has been working well. I’m not going to break guys up after one bad game. There may be some small changes but nothing major. Our season’s goal has always been to reach the play-offs. Right now we are in a battle and we will do everything we can to get there.”