A short-benched Edinburgh Capitals side recovered from a third period fightback by the Braehead Clan to win 4-3 in overtime and register a Challenge Cup victory in their first home game of the new ice hockey season at Murrayfield last night.
Slovakian sharp-shooter Rene Jarolin scored the sudden-death winner, and player-coach Richard Hartmann was extremely pleased with his team’s effort, but did not shy away from the fact that with little more than ten minutes of the game remaining his side blew a three-goal lead.
Hartmann said: “The boys deserve a lot of credit for this win. We didn’t let our heads go down, and played hard right till the end. I’m a little disappointed that we lost three goals in the third period. They scored a lucky goal, we lost a little bit of our concentration, and made a couple of mistakes, Braehead are a good team, they took advantage, and they tied the game.”
Edinburgh were minus their injured defenceman Danny McIntyre and new Slovakian signing Michal Benadik after a paperwork mix-up in his homeland could not be resolved in time for face-off.
Hartmann, who dropped back to play an unfamiliar defensive role, continued: “We were very short on defence and that is always going to make things difficult.”
Many of the 780 fans in attendance were still finding their seats when, after only 25 seconds, last season’s league leading goal-scorer Rene Jarolin found the back of the net. The home team doubled their lead in the 16th minute, after a lovely passing move that went the length of the ice involving young guns Marc Fowley, Joel Gautschi and goal scorer Jordan Steel, who finished well from close range.
It was Steel’s first goal in more than a year, and the Bonnyrigg man said: “It was a nice move, and a very good pass from Joel, I saw that it was coming straight to my stick, and I just helped it on its way.”
Braehead forward Robert Farmer rattled the post in the opening seconds of the second period, and that was as close as the Clan got to eating into the home side’s lead, despite firing in 15 shots on Capitals’ goalie, and man of the match, Tomas Hiadlovsky. Edinburgh scored the only goal of the period when Peter Holecko, after a cross-ice feed from new Canadian signing Jade Portwood, stretched to loop a backhand finish over Zemlak.
Braehead were pushing hard to get back into the match, but Capitals’ looked to be in making a good job of containing the Clan threat, until the 48th minute when the visitors scored three goals in a six-minute spell to turn the game on its head. Ash Goldie, and Farmer had pulled Braehead to within one before, in the 54th minute, English forward Matt Haywood took full advantage of a terrible Capitals line change and tie the game.
Edinburgh regained their composure, and both sides had late chances to win, with Zemlak and Hiadlovsky making saves to force overtime, where returning fan favourite and club Captain Martin Cingel broke up a Clan attack, and worked a slick passing move with Jarolin, setting him up for an easy finish and the winning goal.
On Saturday night, despite another excellent performance from Hiadlovsky who has quickly become a hit with the Caps’ faithful, Edinburgh were thoroughly outplayed in a Challenge Cup game against Fife Flyers in Kirkcaldy, losing 2-0, with Derek Keller and Danny Stewart on target for the home side.