Experienced Edinburgh Capitals forward Pavel Vorobyev lit up a scrappy Elite League encounter last night as his superb four-goal haul helped Caps come from behind on teddy toss night at Murrayfield, and down Braehead Clan 6-4.
The 34-year-old former Chicago Blackhawks star felt the victory was the perfect way to rebound from Saturday’s disappointing 7-1 Challenge Cup quarter-final defeat at Sheffield Steelers. Edinburgh now exit that competition, losing the two-legged affair 9-3 on aggregate.
“That was a very important win for our confidence,” said Vorobyev. “We were so bad on Saturday, that’s us out the cup now and all we have to focus on is the league.”
The win keeps Edinburgh ninth in the table, a point behind Braehead in eighth, however Caps have four games in hand over the Glasgow outfit.
“Every home game we need to be putting in strong performances and looking to win, that was a very important two points against a team who have played more games than us,” Vorobyev continued:
“I don’t know what to think about the game.
“There were times when both teams played well, but there were others when we were so bad, especially defensively in our zone, losing players in front of the net, and again we didn’t help out our goalie.
“We’ve got a long way to go this season, and it’s so important we keep working hard every practice because we need to keep getting better.”
After both sides wasted great early scoring opportunities – Edinburgh’s Garrett Milan with the pick of them firing wide of an empty net – a poor pass from Yevgeni Fyodorov lead to two minutes in the sin bin for Edinburgh’s Jacob Johnston as he illegally thwarted a Clan break-away. Although the penalty was killed it proved the catalyst to the opening goal when, just as Johnston stepped back on to the ice, Clan’s Alex Leavett let rip from the top of the circle resulting in, at 12 minutes and 25 seconds, hundreds of teddies tossed on to the ice from both sets of fans, to be donated by Edinburgh Capitals Supporters Club to the city’s Mission Christmas appeal.
In a break from the norm, traditionally these events which began in North America are triggered by the first home goal, it must have been strange for Edinburgh players to see a goal for the visitors “celebrated” by the entire rink.
Thankfully, as Caps players and staff bagged the toys, Clan players also helped out to speed up the clean-up operation and spare Edinburgh’s blushes somewhat.
With the second period less than a minute old, Edinburgh equalised out of nothing as Vorobyev took advantage of a fluffed Clan clearance to go in alone on Clan goalie Gary Russell and poke the puck home.
In a game full of defensive blunders, Clan retook the lead in the 31st minute, Scott Pitt scoring on another break-away after Edinburgh had over committed in the final seconds of a power-play.
It was a night when fans saw the best and worst of this season’s Caps team, a great few minutes of play allowed Karel Hromas to equalise after collecting a nice cross-ice pass from Vorobyev, and then a lovely individual goal from Ian Schultz, the Canadian waltzing his way around a Clan defenceman and firing a bullet of a wrist shot past Russell on 36 minutes.
It took Braehead just 65 seconds to equalise, GB Internationalist Craig Peacock latching on to a risky behind-the-back clearance from Edinburgh’s Tyler Plews to score.
The third period was more of the same from both sides, however Edinburgh proved more clinical in front of goal with Vorobyev taking advantage of another terrible Clan giveaway in the 47th minute, before completing his hat-trick ten minutes later, coming out of the penalty box to latch on to Schultz’s pin-point pass.
It should have been all over, however, Clan pulled a goal back 20 seconds later through Mike Hammond to ensure a nervy final two minutes. But Vorobyev scored his fourth goal of the night into an empty net in the final second of an error strewn but entertaining game.
“On Saturday we’re at Cardiff, the number one team in the standings,” concluded Vorobyev. “If we work hard for each other every shift we will give ourselves chances. If we get our mental preparation right before the game the fans have seen how well we can play. This will be an important week in practice for us.”