CAPITALS player-coach Richard Hartmann today revealed that his new-look squad have passed his gruelling fitness regime with flying colours and are ready for Sunday’s season opener with Belfast Giants at Murrayfield (face-off 5.45pm).
Hartmann has been a harsh taskmaster this week, with as many as four practice sessions on top of gym work each day in preparation for this weekend’s Challenge Cup clash.
He said: “There are a lot of positives in the team. Everybody is happy to be here and excited to get going.
“That all bodes well for the rest of the season. The boys have had sore legs, that’s for sure, but the work they’ve put in and the spirit they’ve shown has been fantastic. For example, Riley Emmerson arrived from North America on Wednesday and went straight from the airport to the rink for practice.”
In an effort to rebound from the disappointments of last season, where the Murrayfield men finished an embarrassing 25 points adrift at the foot of the table, Capitals have had a busy summer recruiting a squad that includes 12 new faces. There’s also a return after a season playing in his home country of Slovakia for former top-points scorer Rene Jarolin.
Hartmann continued: “Rene coming back will have a big impact for us, plus the guys we’ve brought in look like really good players who seem to have built up a quick understanding with one another and have brought some fresh air into the locker room.
“I really think we’re in better position to compete this year. We have brought in big physical players.
“We have toughness like we’ve never had before and we’re a young team who can play hard all night long.”
Sunday’s opponents Belfast take on Dundee Stars tonight, the first of three games in as many days for last season’s Elite League champions, but Hartmann does not expect tiredness on the Giants’ players part to allow the Caps to get a jump start on their opponents.
He said: “I’ve experienced this a lot in my career, a supposedly tired team, up against a fresh one and often it’s the team who haven’t played at all that come out sluggish and are beaten to every puck.
“Belfast are a quality team, they’ve proven that year on year, but it doesn’t matter when we play them.
“If we want to have a successful season we need to be able to beat any team in the league. We are going out there to play our game and start the year the right way – with a win.”
Meanwhile, team co-owner Scott Neil has revealed that local forward Jordan Steel and Canadian defenceman Kyle Flemington, who both played in last weekend’s pre-season series with Dundee Stars, have signed contracts with the club.
Flemington, who comes straight from Canadian junior hockey and holds a British passport, had initially signed in the UK with Oxford City Stars but contacted Neil asking for a trial. He will become the 12th import on Edinburgh’s books, the maximum allowed to ice in a match.
Neil would not rule out further signings and said: “It’s great to have Jordan back on board, and Flemington impressed us last weekend. He’s a big guy who does the simple things well and has a good first pass.
“We are still in the market looking to strengthen the team. It’s a long and difficult season and having as big a squad as possible will help us.”
Capitals 2014-15 squad
Tomas Hiadlovsky, Netminder, age 25
Craig Mallinson, Netminder, 23
Kevin Forshall, Netminder, 30
Joe Grimaldi, Defence, 28
Marcel Petran, Defence, 27
Lukas Bohunicky, Defence, 26
Kyle Flemington, Defence, 22
David Beatson, Defence, 34
James Wallace, Defence, 19
Riley Emmerson, Defence/forward, 28
Jay King, Defence/forward, 18
Daniel Naslund, Forward, 25
Dennis Rix, Forward, 25
Greg Collins, Forward, 28
Jade Portwood, Forward, 25
Rene Jarolin, Forward, 32
Richard Hartmann, Forward, 38
Sean Beattie, Forward, 19
Callum Boyd, Forward, 20
Jordan Steel, Forward, 24