Player-coach Richard Hartmann and man-of-the-match Curtis Leinweber led the way with two goals apiece as Edinburgh Capitals snapped a six-game losing streak in the Elite League with an emphatic 6-2 ice hockey victory over Hull Stingrays at Murrayfield last night.
In a match littered with penalties handed out by referee James Ashton, Capitals scored four with the man-advantage while successfully killing six Hull power-plays. It was a performance that delighted Hartmann, but the experienced Slovakian warned his players that the effort shown in recent weeks must continue if last-placed Edinburgh are to have any chance of climbing the table and challenging for an end-of-season play-off spot.
He said: “This is only one game in a long season. We need to keep this going. Consistency has been our biggest problem this year, but actually I’ve been happy with how we’ve performed over the last few games.
“We’ve played well against some of the league’s bigger teams in Sheffield and Coventry and had nothing to show for it. I said to the boys we need to keep playing the same way. We showed up again last night and I’m really happy with the performance.”
For recent signing Leinweber, it was his fourth game in a Capitals shirt and the Canadian is fast becoming a fan favourite playing on the team’s first line alongside Hartmann and club leading scorer Rene Jarolin.
Leinweber said: “They’re both very skilled with tremendous playmaking and passing abilities and that makes things a lot easier. I just go when they tell me, and the puck is on my stick every time. It’s a lot of fun.
“Everyone played great and did the little things right. We limited our turnovers and mistakes. It was a strong performance.
“Our penalty kill was fantastic. Twice we had to play out a five on three which is never easy. The guys did a great job killing that and making sure we didn’t lose any momentum and it was great to see everybody make some nice plays and put the puck in the back of the net.”
Hartmann and Leinweber’s delight was starkly contrasted by the mood of Stingrays team owner and assistant coach Bobby McEwan. The Glaswegian, who has spent nine years involved in Hull ice hockey, said: “We were very ill-disciplined, didn’t stick to the game plan and tried to play as individuals instead of as a team. We took silly penalties and we were punished plain and simple.
“No disrespect to the Capitals, they played well and took their chances, but this has been a terrible night for us and now it’s back to the drawing board.”
In an open first 20 minutes which saw chances at both ends, Leinweber opened the scoring for the home side at 4.48, Dominic Osman replying for the visitors less than two minutes later.
Edinburgh, for whom long-time servant Neil Hay was making his 450th appearance, scored two quick goals early in the second period through Leinweber and Hartmann before Stingrays’ Martin Ondrej took advantage of a rare piece of poor Capitals defending in the 34th minute, skating uncontested into a dangerous position before firing a shot with height past Edinburgh net-minder Tomas Hiadlovsky.
Capitals’ Latvian sniper Marcis Zembergs, 24 today, started his birthday party early, regaining a two-goal cushion for his side by rifling a first-time shot past Ben Bowns after being set up by club skipper Martin Cingel at 37.45.
The goal seemed to knock the stuffing from the visitors, allowing Edinburgh to turn in their best third period performance of the season to date as they added further markers by Hartmann and Jarolin, who rounded off the scoring with his 16th goal of the year at 57.13.