Ice Hockey: Star-struck Capitals left reeling by late double

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Edinburgh CAPITALS were left to rue late defensive errors, letting slip a two-goal third period lead against the Dundee Stars in Tayside last night, 
before eventually losing 5-4 to a last-minute Tim Kraus goal in an entertaining Elite League ice hockey encounter.

Disappointed Capitals skipper Martin Cingel refused to blame tiredness in what was Edinburgh’s third game in as many days, and believes his team-mates have now “learned a tough lesson” after their failure to hold on to a 3-1 lead cost them their first away victory of the season.

Cingel, after being cheered off the ice by the vocal travelling support, said: “This is hard to take but it’s our fault. To be up 3-1 with 10 minutes left we should be able to hold on and take the points. We should have held on to the puck and kept it tight defensively for five minutes or so and we would have been fine, but instead we let them score two quick goals.

“I wouldn’t say we were tired, it was more that we made mistakes, and they were mistakes from our experienced boys and that shouldn’t happen. Looking forward, we need to take the positives from this – we scored some nice goals, created a lot of pressure, and for the first two periods we were all over them. We have been punished for our mistakes and we have learned a tough lesson.”

With three minutes to go and the game tied 4-4, referee Neil Wilson sent Caps defenseman Frazer Goldie to the penalty box for slashing. Edinburgh managed to kill the penalty but could not clear the puck from their own zone in time for fresh players to get on the ice and a slick Stars passing move 
bypassed an exhausted Caps defence and left Kraus, who was making his Dundee home debut, alone at the far post to slot the puck past Capitals net-minder Tomas Hiadlovsky with 53 seconds remaining.

Edinburgh forward Joel Gautschi said: “It’s a very frustrating loss. We had the lead a couple of times and should have held on. We didn’t agree with some of the offside and penalty decisions made by the referee but we’re just going to have to take it on the chin.”

Edinburgh, buoyed by Saturday’s 8-4 victory over Braehead Clan at Murrayfield, which saw them leapfrog Fife Flyers at the bottom of the league standings, started the game the stronger of the two sides, outshooting the Stars 16-7, and scored the only goal of the first period at 13.33 when Neil Hay reacted sharply to rifle home a shot 
after an initial Marcis Zembergs effort had been blocked by the Stars defence.

Capitals sharp-shooter Rene Jarolin doubled the visitors’ lead in the 22nd minute, before Stars’ man-of-the-match Pat Bowen brought them back into the game with a rocket of a slap-shot, after being teed up by Dundee player-coach Jeff Hutchins.

Experienced Capitals blue-liner Michal Dobron looked to have left the game with an ankle injury in the 26th minute but the gutsy Czech, who also received four stitches for a gash above his right eye, later returned but did not look to be moving comfortably.

Zembergs and Hutchins traded goals 30 seconds apart in the 48th minute before a Matt Baxter effort brought the two teams level at 51.48. In a frenetic final 10 minutes, Edinburgh went ahead again through Peter Holecko, only for Stars’ impressive Finnish import, Sami Ryanan, to score Dundee’s fourth goal at 53.42, setting the scene for the home side’s last-gasp winner.

Edinburgh’s season continues this weekend, away to Fife on Saturday before returning for a home clash with Hull Stingrays on Sunday. Zembergs, who picked up man-of the-match honours for the visitors, said: “We have played well in our last two games and have started to score goals which is important, but we need to start winning away from Murrayfield, starting with Fife this Saturday.”