Size makes me target, says Edinburgh Capitals ace

Riley Emmerson, centre. Pic: JAN ORKISZ/SMP

Riley Emmerson, centre. Pic: JAN ORKISZ/SMP

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Edinburgh Capitals tough guy Riley Emmerson today insisted he deserved to be banned for last week’s check from behind on Braehead forward Matt Haywood.

However, he feels that, at 6ft 8in and weighing in at just shy of 18st, he is being unfairly punished with a four-game suspension for being taller and heavier than other players.

The Elite League’s Department of Player Safety subsequently reviewed video footage of the play and handed the giant Canadian, who earlier in the season had a ten-game ban for boarding reduced to three on appeal, with a suspension.

He will not be eligible for a return to the line-up until Edinburgh’s Murrayfield clash with rivals Fife Flyers on Hogmanay.

Haywood has since missed two games for Braehead through injury and Emmerson admitted: “I know it was a bad hit. I’m a big guy and I didn’t read the hit right. I thought he would turn more and would be facing me. I hate to see people hurt and I hope he gets back soon. You’ve got to take your punishment. Four games is a lot, though. I’m a little bit disappointed.

“We’ve all seen worse hits than that and they’ve only been one or two games so that’s what I was hoping for.

“If that had been one of their bigger guys like (Jeff) Smith or (Leigh) Salters it would have just been a bump from behind and they would have bounced right back. In fact, they wouldn’t have even fallen over. I’m a lot taller and heavier than some of the guys in this league and that’s a big factor.”

Edinburgh will be looking to bounce back themselves from Sunday’s 5-2 loss to Belfast Giants in tonight’s important Gardiner Conference match at Murrayfield against an improving Dundee Stars (face-off 7.30pm), who have won two of their three games played since the clubs last met earlier this month.

Defenseman Joe Grimaldi, who yesterday along with Capitals’ captain Jade Portwood visited and handed out presents to children being currently treated in Livingston’s St John’s Hospital, is expecting a tough match despite Edinburgh getting the better of their Tayside rivals in their last four encounters.

“Tonight’s a really big game,” said Grimaldi. “Everything’s very close in the standings so, if we can pick up two points before we have a couple of days off for Christmas, it could be huge coming down the stretch. “We’ve been on a good run and we’ve worked really hard to get off the bottom of the league, but, if we lose two or three games in a row, we’ll bounce back down again.

“We’ve had some success against Dundee recently but every time it has been a tight, low-scoring affair. A real nail-biter.

Grimaldi, who organised the toy giveaway with help from the Edinburgh Capitals Supporters Club, after an initial plea for donations to Caps fans from his Twitter account, is adamant the season of goodwill is suspended tonight – on the ice at least.“We have to limit our mistakes and, when we’re under pressure, keep it simple.

“Rather than try and take a guy on one-on-one we need chip the puck in to the corner and chase it.

“We need to limit our turnovers, because especially against the top teams in this league, when we lose possession in a bad area that’s when we get exposed.”

On his trip to St John’s, he said: “I always try to organise something like that this time of year.

“I collect a bunch of toys and visit a home or a hospital, somewhere where kids might be having a tough time. It’s nice to hand out the presents and let them know others are thinking of them.”