Ice Hockey: Ninth-place finish infuriates coach Hartmann

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Edinburgh CAPITALS rounded off their ice hockey season at Murrayfield last night with a convincing 11-3 victory over fierce local rivals Fife Flyers.

The intensely physical encounter was barely controlled by experienced referee Moray Hanson, who handed out over 300 minutes in penalties and ejected seven players, as the frustrations of the two teams who failed to make the Elite League’s end-of-season play-offs reached boiling point.

Edinburgh, who had looked a certainty for a top-eight spot and a play-off berth at the season’s midway point, were consigned to ninth after Saturday night’s embarrassing 13-2 defeat in Yorkshire to the Sheffield Steelers, coupled with Dundee Stars’ 2-1 victory against Fife, made it impossible for the Capitals to catch the Tayside outfit, who finish eighth.

Capitals’ player-coach Richard Hartmann, who left out local players Jordan Steel, Neil Hay and Iain Bowie for last night’s game, admitted he was left disappointed by the level of passion shown by some of his players in the season’s final games, and that he would be looking to add some extra character to his team as he prepares to build for next year.

Hartmann said: “The management at our club are doing the absolute maximum to ensure we improve next year, there are a lot of guys out there with character and a passion for hockey and that’s all that matters. In the last couple of games I was really missing that from some of my players, and that really disappointed me because we were still fighting for the play-offs, and they just shouldn’t play like that.”

On the subject of cutting players from the line-up, the experienced Slovakian, in his first year as a coach, hinted he should have perhaps taken a tougher stance earlier in the campaign.

He said: “I don’t want to go into the details; it’s an internal matter within the club. I’m disappointed, I’m a young coach, I made a few mistakes during the season, but in the end I felt enough is enough, I needed to make a change. I’m looking ahead to next season and everything is going to have to change.”

Capitals’ were led by man-of-the-match Bari McKenzie who bagged a hat-trick, the Dumfries- born forward shrugged off the physical of the game and was pleased to end the season with a win, claiming a few more performances like last night’s would have seen his side comfortably make the play-off’s.

He said: “We came out really hard, I don’t think Fife anticipated that. We started really well, and we scored three quick goals, they couldn’t keep up with us, and that’s when they started to rough it up.

“If you look at all the fights none of our guys got beat up, we stood our ground, played really well and deserved the two points. If we’d played over the last couple of months like we did tonight, we wouldn’t have found ourselves in this situation.”

Edinburgh led 3-0 within five minutes through a McKenzie double sandwiched between a Peter Holecko goal, and finished the period 4-2 ahead, Danny Stewart with a double for Fife, Hartmann completing the scoring for Edinburgh.

Edinburgh increased their lead to 7-3 with goals from Tomas Valecko, Marcis Zembergs and Sean Menton, Chris Wands replying for Fife before the game erupted in the 33rd minute when an altercation between Fife goalie Garret Zemlak and Edinburgh’s Martin Petrina lead to a bench-clearing brawl. Referee Hanson ejecting from the game Edinburgh’s Jozef Sladok and Fife bench coach Steven Lynch. Menton, Rene Jarolin, McKenzie and Zembergs later completed the scoring for the home side

Tempers continued to flare throughout the remainder of the match. Edinburgh lost Valecko, Jan Safar and Jarolin to game penalties, whilst Fife had Danny Stewart, Thomas Muir and Frantisek Bakrlik ejected.