Edinburgh Capitals player-coach Richard Hartmann welcomes back goalie Tomas Hiadlovsky for a must-win Challenge Cup game at Braehead Clan tomorrow, before returning to Murrayfield on Sunday for an Elite League clash with oldest rivals Fife Flyers (face-off 6pm).
Haidlovsky has now completed his five-match ban for kicking out at an opponent and Hartmann, who plans to go on the attack this weekend, has been full of praise for his back up net-minders Craig ‘Sheepdog’ Holland and Kevin Forshall, who played in Hiadlovsky’s absence.
He said: “The two boys, Sheepdog and Forshy, did a great job for me, but right now with Tomas returning we can focus a little bit more on the offensive end, we’re not going to start winning games just because the netminder has changed, we need to score more goals.
“We called a team meeting and I spoke to the boys, we know what we want to do and what direction we need to take. Everybody’s continuing to practise and train hard. We’ve been concentrating on our defensive positioning and made some changes to our power-play because that has not been working. I’m hoping this will have a positive effect and lead to goals out on the ice.”
Hartmann revealed that the club expect to be at full strength after both he and third line centre Jordan Steel look to have recovered from knocks picked up in their most recent match, last Sunday’s 3-2 penalty-shot defeat on the road at Dundee Stars.
Edinburgh, with one win in five games, are rooted to the bottom of their Challenge Cup group and a win in regulation time against the Clan tomorrow is a necessity if the Caps are to have any chance of progressing to the competition’s quarter-final stage. Edinburgh have never beaten Braehead on their home ice, and the task was not made easier after Clan announced earlier this week the contracting of current Detroit Redwings forward Drew Miller who becomes the first NHL player to sign for a Scottish club. His deal runs until the dispute between team owners and the NHL player union, which has resulted in a lock-out, is resolved.
Braehead are one of four British teams who now have a current NHL player on their roster and Capitals defenceman Danny McIntyre believes it can only be good for hockey in the UK.
He said: “It’s not too often you get players of their calibre coming over to play in this league. It’s good for the fans, good for the sport in this country, and hopefully it will get more people interested in coming to watch ice hockey.”
McIntyre has seen plenty of ice time this year playing beside top defenceman Michal Dobron against some of the best players in the country and he has won praise for his performances alongside the Czech internationalist. The 28-year-old, who is a personal trainer by profession, has also taken on a new roll off the ice, working as a fitness coach for the club’s youth and Scottish National League squads.
McIntyre explained: “I work with the guys as a group on a Friday, and give them an individual training programme for the rest of the week; the idea behind it is to improve their speed, agility, flexibility, and overall conditioning.
“Some of the younger guys are getting the opportunity to train and play with the first team and are getting a good idea of the hard work it takes both off and on the ice to get to the level of an Elite League player and beyond.”