Club captain Jade Portwood says there is “no chance” Edinburgh Capitals will take struggling Dundee Stars lightly in their weekend double-header.
Caps travel to Tayside tomorrow before hosting Stars at Murrayfield on Sunday (face-off 6pm) amid claims their opponents are a team in crisis following the departure of two influential players, Matt Ryan and John Mitchell, last week.
“Guys have heard the talk,” said Portwood, “but sometimes playing through adversity can bring a group together and there’s no chance we’re going to take them lightly. Even with a couple of guys missing they’re still a good team and they know how important this weekend is.
“Every time we’ve played them this season it’s been a one-goal game, or even down to penalty shots, so whoever comes out to play is going to get the points.”
Edinburgh will be looking to carry forward momentum from Sunday’s third period fight-back from 2-0 down against Hull Stingrays, the Caps eventually wining the game 3-2 after penalty shots.
Portwood said: “We weren’t very happy about how the majority of that game went, so to come out and score early is the plan – we’ll try to make Dundee play on their heels.”
In winning five of their last six games, the 26-year-old, in his third year as a Capital, is hopeful Edinburgh have turned a corner in their Elite League campaign and are in a position to push for a play-off place.
Portwood, however, warned against complacency in a month that sees Caps play seven of ten games on home ice.
The Canadian, whose team went 15 games without a win earlier in the season, continued: “I don’t think we would have won that game (against Hull) earlier in the season – we probably would have fallen apart and who knows what would happen. But the guys are more confident now. To come back from two down shows we are coming together as a team. Winning changes everything. Guys are a lot happier, you don’t grip your stick so tightly during games and it’s a lot easier to go to the rink for practice.
“I knew that once we got out of that losing streak things would turn around for us, but as soon as you think things will go your way or that it will be easy that’s when things go bad again. We just need to take each game as it comes and make sure we give 100 per cent.
“We had a chat about how important this month is for us. If we can keep this run going then we could build towards putting ourselves in a comfortable play-off spot, rather than have that pressure on us at the end of the season.”
Meanwhile, Capitals co-owner and Scotland Under-19 coach Scott Neil is disappointed that Caps starlet Jay King was not given a trial with the GB Under-20 squad that flew out to Finland for a training camp earlier this week en route to the World Championships in Estonia. Only three Scots made the 22-man squad – none of whom play their hockey north of the Border – and, on 18-year-old King missing out, Neil said: “I don’t want to sound like I’m criticising the GB coaches.
“I’m behind them all the way, but I was surprised and disappointed Jay wasn’t even considered for a trial.
“He’s playing more Elite League level hockey than any other kid in his age group and has had a good season for us.
“He was also an important part of the Scotland Under-19 team that beat their English counterparts in May.
“An English team that featured the core of the GB squad.”
“Jay is a versatile player and, in my opinion, would have been a good addition to the squad.”