Ice Hockey: Caps end their 14-game losing streak

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Edinburgh CAPITALS emphatically ended their run of 14 defeats last night with a 6-2 victory over Dundee Stars at Murrayfield.

Player-coach Richard Hartmann declared the win for his ice hockey team as a “big step” towards a top-eight finish and the end-of-season play-offs before warning his players “there’s still a long way to go.”

The Slovakian was keen to praise his players’ efforts over both their games this weekend, and he is confident of picking up more valuable league points in their eight remaining fixtures, admitting he was happy to get the better of the Stars, who had won on their last three visits to Edinburgh, on home ice.

He said: “There’s a lot of work to be done, we’ve done nothing yet. We played well against Coventry on Saturday night (in a 5-3 loss), and put a lot of effort in, we carried that on last night, and finally we beat those guys. Everybody’s been working really hard in order to reach the play-offs, this was a big step.

“There are still a lot of points on the line. If we continue to play with the same effort we have shown this weekend them I’m sure we’ll grab some more.”

Edinburgh earned the victory on the back of a superb performance from their second-line forwards of Marcis Zembergs, Sean Menton and Peter Holecko who accounted for five of the six goals. Leading the way was Latvian sniper Zembergs who claimed a hat-trick and the man-of-the-match award.

He said: “We played really well, Dundee are in ninth place, so it was a very important game for us, and we’re happy to win it. We played our way, to our system. We created lots of chances, scored goals, and played well defensively. It’s my first hat-trick in this league and I’m very happy, it was all down to some great play and assists from my line mates.”

Edinburgh fired a total of 53 shots at Dundee goalie Chris Whitley, and fashioned the best of the early chances in an open and physical first period. Stars were not holding back, not even referee Moray Hanson was spared after he inadvertently got in the way of a Jeff Hutchins hit, the ex-Capitals forward had no time to pull out and accidentally sent the experienced official spinning to the ice.

Edinburgh opened the scoring in the 13th minute with Zembergs netting on a rebound after both Holecko and defenceman Tomas Valecko had efforts saved by Whitley. The Caps increased their lead early in the second period, Jozef Sladok sending a bouncing puck towards goal, which was helped on its way by Hartmann before Menton was on hand to finish from close range.

Stars pulled a goal back through Dundee local boy John Dolan before Edinburgh restored their two-goal advantage in the 29th minute, Zembergs finishing well after a lovely pass from behind the net by Valecko.

In an action-packed three-minute spell Stars thought they had pulled a goal back, and were celebrating before it was ruled out by Hanson who, after consulting with his linesman, deemed the puck not to have crossed the line. From the resulting face-off Bari Mckenzie broke up the ice and his backhand pass found Rene Jarolin, who sent an unstoppable shot past Whitley at 31.42 for his 40th goal of the season. Dundee were still very much in the game, and pulled it back to 4-2 in the 35th minute, Capitals’ net-minder Nathan Craze could not hold onto a Mark Kolanis’ shot and the rebound was tucked away neatly by AJ Mclean.

Zembergs completed his hat-trick two minutes later, his cross-ice pass seemed to take a deflection off a Dundee skate and into the net behind a baffled Whitley, before Peter Holecko rounded off the scoring on 45 minutes, after being sent clean through on goal by Menton.