Canadian ice hockey forward Curtis Leinweber is looking for his Edinburgh Capitals side to learn from their mistakes and bounce back from Hogmanay heartache ahead of two “huge” games this weekend.
Caps are aiming to pressure the teams above them in the hunt for an end of season Elite League play-off spot and travel to Tayside tomorrow for a clash with Dundee Stars, before returning for Sunday’s home match-up with an out-of-sorts Cardiff Devils at Murrayfield (face-off 6pm).
Leinweber, still smarting from Edinburgh’s overtime loss to fierce rivals Fife Flyers on old year’s night, said: “It was an ugly way to loose, in the last half-second or so of overtime – tough for ourselves and for the fans – especially for it to be at home, and against Fife. You have to live and learn from it, it’s part of the game. Hopefully, we’ll get them next time.”
Although disappointed with the result, recent signing Leinweber enjoyed his first taste of the Forth rivalry, reminding the former North American college star of derby clashes he experienced in his four years with University of Alaska- Anchorage in front of up to 6000 baying spectators.
He said: “Alaska-Fairbanks is the other University there. We only got to play them twice a year, for a trophy called the Governor’s Cup. The games were played in front of big crowds. We didn’t like each other too much, which is kind of similar to the rivalry here. Those games were always hard fought. The Hogmanay game was very reminiscent of that for me, so it was pretty cool.” Having completed 29 matches from their 52 this season, Edinburgh sit ninth in the ten-strong Elite League, a point behind tomorrow’s opponents Dundee, who have played two games fewer and occupy eighth place – the final play-off spot. Stars, coached by former Capitals’ sniper Jeff Hutchins, have built their season around their excellent home form, where Edinburgh have lost on each of their three previous visits.
Cardiff, who entertain the league’s bottom club, Hull Stingrays, tomorrow before Sunday’s trip to the Capital, will be minus influential duo Max Bribraer and NHL star Paul Bissonnette. The Welsh outfit are fourth in the league, 11 points behind pacesetters Nottingham Panthers, which is not good enough for ambitious Devils owner, millionaire businessman Paul Ragan, who, prompted by a 4-2 loss to Dundee last time out, held a meeting yesterday with player-coach Gerad Adams to discuss recent results.
Running the rule over the two fixtures, Leinweber said: “It’s huge; these are important points for us. As the team chasing, if we win it really puts pressure on the rest of the league.
“Tomorrow will be big. It’s not a long ride so we’ll have no issues with bus legs or anything like that, hopefully we can pick up the two points, which will allow us to roll nicely into Sunday’s game.”
Leinweber, who has racked up nine goals and ten assists in 12 games with the Caps, has, along with fellow new recruit Brent Patry, been hailed by players and fans as the catalyst behind the club’s recent upturn in form which last month included victories away from home in Nottingham, Sheffield and Braehead. The 24-year-old, who was signed by Edinburgh after a move to a team in America’s East Coast Hockey League failed to work out, said of his time in Scotland: “It’s a beautiful country and I’ve met a lot of fantastic people. The wonderful hospitality I received over the holiday period shows the kind of people that are over here.
“I love the game and I still want to play; Edinburgh is a great place and hopefully things work out and I can continue to play. I guess we’ll evaluate that later on. At the moment I’m just burying my head and concentrating on playing and we’ll see what happens.”