Ice Hockey: Patience key to success, says Capitals player-coach Hartmann

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EDINBURGH CAPITALS travel to Hull Stingrays tomorrow looking to halt a run of thee straight defeats in the first of two important weekend Gardiner Conference clashes against their closest play-off rivals in ice hockey’s Elite League.

Capitals player-coach Richard Hartmann, whose side host Dundee Stars on Sunday (6pm), has been left frustrated by Edinburgh’s recent poor form. Confidence levels of a side that had been flying after winning six of their previous eight games have been dented by last weekend’s defeat on Tayside to Dundee and a home setback against Cardiff Devils.

Hartmann knows another winning run is required to reignite second-from-bottom Edinburgh’s push for a play-off spot and he said: “The only positive I could take from last weekend was that although we lost we created chances – but we were too impatient and tried to push too hard to get the goal. If we are to be successful, we need to remain patient, and play that way for 60 minutes.

“We’ve put the disappointment of last week behind us and are well prepared for two important games. Everyone can see where we are in the standings, we all know what we need to do, but first we need to settle down and get our confidence back.

“In training this week I kept the guys off the ice for two days and concentrated solely on our fitness, gradually building up our ice time – we had our main practice last night and will hit the ice again later today.”

Hartmann will be boosted by news that influential Canadian defenceman Brent Patry is set to feature after recovering from a shoulder injury, and that Jade Portwood, who made a return to action last weekend, suffered no reaction to the groin strain that kept him out of the line-up for 23 games. However, Peter Holecko, who missed Sunday’s 6-3 loss to the Devils, will be out for at least another week.

Holecko, who is in his second year with the Caps, is seen by many fans as Edinburgh’s most improved player this season and Hartmann said: “Peter brings a lot to this team, he does a lot of hard work on the back end and helps us out defensively. We miss him when he’s not in the line-up.”

Meanwhile, Capitals forward Jordan Steel has been fined for a breach of the Elite League’s social media policy. Steel fell-foul of league officials for posting a message on his Twitter account following Edinburgh’s loss to Fife Flyers on Hogmanay. The offending tweet, which has since been removed, criticised the performance of match referee Neil Wilson, before congratulating Flyers on their victory.

Steel, who was fined the minimum amount, is not the first casualty of the new policy, brought in last August to curb criticism of referees and Twitter wars between rival players. Capitals’ co-owner Scott Neil, although sympathetic to his player’s plight, said: “To be fair I think we needed to bring in some sort of control, as there was potentially some trouble there. Tweets between players at the beginning of the year were getting ridiculous, and unless something was done it could have got totally out of hand.

“Steps needed to be taken to ensure credibility for all concerned, including match officials. A marker has been laid down. Players will now need to think about what they say before they say it.”