Edinburgh Capitals moved off the bottom of ice hockey’s Elite League, taking advantage of short-benched Braehead Clan in a 5-3 victory at Murrayfield last night.
Player-coach Richard Hartmann, who sealed the win with an empty net strike five seconds from time, was involved in four of the goals in a man-of-the-match display and admitted that Braehead, who could only ice 12 skaters, made it a tough night’s work.
A relieved Hartmann said: “There was pressure on us tonight. Some games are considered games you ‘can’ win and others are considered games you ‘must’ win. This was a ‘must’ win game considering they were so short and only had 12 skaters.
“We were the home team and we needed to take the game to them, but they made it very hard for us.
“Players now understand their roles on the team and are playing well together, which is a big reason why we won tonight. It’s important that we play our style of hockey, which means working hard, remaining patient and passing the puck. If we do that, we will create chances and win games.”
Edinburgh’s fourth win in their last five games has moved them one point ahead of Hull Stingrays in the standings, much to the delight of the Capitals faithful.
Hartmann continued: “We know we’ve been playing pretty well recently. We’re here to try and win games for our fans who come out to support us every week. We’re trying to play good hockey that they can enjoy and hopefully keep them coming back for more.”
Braehead were without NHL star Drew Miller through illness and starting goalie Garrett Zemlak, who flew home to Canada yesterday to attend to a personal matter.
Exasperated Clan player-coach Jordan Krestanovich said of his team’s season so far: “It’s been absolutely insane. I’ve gone through things you would reasonably expect not to have to deal with in five years in only three-and-a-half months.
“Saying that, we’re going to get through this. We had a long journey back from Cardiff last night (in a 5-1 defeat) and the guys are tired, but we battled right to the end. Edinburgh are playing good hockey right now, and have beaten good teams in this league.
“With a full line-up, it could have been a different story, and I promise you we will be bringing players in and we will be a completely different team in January.”
Hartmann scored Edinburgh’s opening goal on the power-play nine minutes in, firing a rebound past Clan reserve goalie Mike Will after he had initially done well to stop a blast from Curtis Leinweber. The visitors levelled less than a minute later through defenceman Steve Birnstill. Clan had the better of the opening period, but it was Edinburgh who led 2-1 at the break through a Leinweber goal scored at 16.40.
Edinburgh increased their lead in the 35th minute with their second power-play goal, Capitals’ top- marksman Rene Jarolin scoring his 17th goal of the season after a nice feed from Hartmann.
With a little over ten minutes left, Edinburgh looked to be in control of a game where clear cut openings were at a premium, but Braehead came right back into the contest, pulling a goal back from the stick of Canadian forward Ash Goldie at 49.21.
At 56.02 home fans again thought the points were safe when recent signing Brent Patry scored his first goal for the club, only for Braehead to make it 4-3 15 seconds later, slack defending allowing Clan talisman Jade Galbraith to score from close range after Caps goalie Tomas Hiadlovsky had saved an initial Krestanovich effort.
In the final minute Braehead pulled their goalie for an extra attacker, only for Jarolin to bravely dive and block a shot from Krestanovich, which led to Hartmann’s scoring into the empty net at 59.54.