Ice Hockey: Make or break time for Capitals’ season

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Assistant coach Jock Hay revealed training has reached new levels of intensity this week as Edinburgh Capitals’ ice hockey team look to halt a 13-game losing streak and pick up league points in both their Elite League matches this weekend.

Edinburgh travel to the West Midlands tomorrow for a crack at Coventry Blaze, before returning home on Sunday, hoping to shoot down the Dundee Stars, in a match which will go a long way to determining the Murrayfield men’s end-of-season ambitions (face-off 6.00pm).

Despite their poor form, the Caps still hold on to eighth place and a coveted play-off spot, two points ahead of ninth-placed Stars, who will be looking to win at the Riverside rink for the fourth time this season.

Airing his thoughts on both games, Hay said: “This week our practice has been quite intense, the plan being to get the guys playing at a good, fast tempo for our games this weekend.

“Coventry are perhaps not as potent a force as they have been in past seasons, so it’s a place we’re actually looking to see if we can pick up a point or two.

“Against Dundee, our performances at Murrayfield have been pretty poor, and the reason our practice has been so intense this week is to get our performance level up, and be able to play at our best on Sunday.”

Hay and player/coach Richard Hartmann have been left sweating on the fitness of defensive duo Martin Petrina and Tomas Valecko after they both picked up knocks in last Sunday’s 7-0 away loss to Sheffield Steelers.

Hay said: “Valecko has been skating in practise this week – he took a puck to the hand – so it’s just a question of waiting for the swelling to go down. Petrina has only been doing light practices, in order not to put too much weight on his injury; we’ll just have to see how that goes.”

Outside of Scotland, the Capitals have toiled desperately on their travels this season, losing all their league matches in regulation time, bar one, a 3-2 victory over Hull Stingrays in October, but team captain Jan Safar is looking to take something from the Blaze tomorrow, who have suffered something of a mini-slump themselves, losing five on the bounce.

Safar said: “We have to be ready for this weekend – it’s a big one – maybe one of our biggest weekends of the year. Coventry are a really good team, so it will be hard. We’re just going to go into the game, try our best, and try to out-work them. We managed to take a point from them, when we tied with them at home, so I don’t see why we can’t do that again.”

The Czech defender stressed he was only too aware of the importance of the Dundee game, but warned his team not to get too pumped up for the occasion.

He said: “Last time [a 6-3 defeat earlier this month] we were too fired up and wanted to win too much. We became nervous, slowed the game down, and made a few mistakes. The key for us is to work hard, and stay positive. Even if things don’t go our way, we mustn’t get frustrated or put too much pressure on ourselves.”

There will be a minute’s silence prior to Sunday’s face-off in memory of Kelly Dutiaume, wife of Fife Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume, who died suddenly this week after she took ill on Monday. It is understood the 38-year-old was expecting twins next month. The couple have one child together, Olivia, 3.

A statement on the Capitals’ website said: “The Edinburgh Capitals were saddened to hear of the sudden death of Todd Dutiaume’s wife, Kelly. Our thoughts, prayers and support are with him and his family at this difficult time.”