Ice HOCKEY forward and Edinburgh Capitals captain Martin Cingel expects two tough Challenge Cup games for his charges this weekend, when they travel to Tayside to face Dundee Stars tomorrow night, before returning to Murrayfield on Sunday when fierce rivals Fife Flyers are the visitors (face-off 6pm).
The 36-year-old Slovakian, in his tenth season for Edinburgh, knows only too well the importance Capitals fans will place on a home victory in the Forth derby, and the opportunity to draw the season series level after the Flyers won the first encounter last weekend in Kirkcaldy.
Cingel said: “After last Saturday’s loss in Fife, we want to win this game no matter what. It means a lot to the fans, it means a lot to the players. Before the match I’ll give a speech in the locker room explaining to our new guys the importance of these games.”
Tomorrow’s opponents Dundee, coached by ex-Capitals forward Jeff Hutchins, started their season with two matches in the Elite League, losing both games to Coventry Blaze and Nottingham Panthers, but have been boosted this week by the late arrival of two of summer signings defenceman Doug Krantz and forward Bill Bagron, after the pair were finally being granted work visas.
Cingel, who played two matches for the Stars in the pre-season, said: “ I played for them two weeks ago in the Autumn Scottish Cup. I was impressed with the guys Jeff Hutchins has brought in this year; he has signed a couple of really good players and a great goalie.
“Dundee is a hard working team – I’m sure it’s going to be tough for us – but I think it will be a really good game.”
Edinburgh, who could only ice three first-team defencemen in their opening round of fixtures, have picked up Slovakian blue liner Juraj Senko on a temporary contract, after his release from English Premier League team Slough Jets.
The well-travelled 27-year-old is no stranger to Scotland having spent two years playing in Dumfries with the Solway Sharks. He also has experience of playing in Slovakia’s Extraliga, in Hungary and two seasons playing in the French top flight with Dijon.
He has initially been given a two-week trial to see if he can cut the mustard with the Caps.
Cingel, who played against Senko last season while icing for Manchester Phoenix in the English Premier League, said of the player: “I remember playing against him; he was a big, mobile, offensive defenceman.”
Meanwhile, Capitals have re-signed utility player Neil Hay.
The 28-year-old, son of bench coach Jock Hay, has been training with the squad over the past two weeks and will ice for his first game in his 13th season with the Caps this weekend.
Coach Hartmann said: “Neil can bring a lot to the table and another British player will provide competition for places in all areas. I want to give everyone a fair shot, develop for the future and encourage all my players that hard work will pay dividends in the long run. Neil can fit into forward or defence and he will provide more options for the team.”