Victory today can help Capitals’ 2014 plans

Richard Hartmann, far left, celebrates scoring against Braehead on Sunday. Picture: Jan Orkisz

Richard Hartmann, far left, celebrates scoring against Braehead on Sunday. Picture: Jan Orkisz

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With Edinburgh Capitals six points adrift at the foot of ice hockey’s Elite League table, co-owner Scott Neil is refusing to look any further ahead than the Hogmanay showdown with fierce rivals Fife Flyers at Murrayfield later today.

Neil insists his team have the mettle to bounce back from Sunday’s disappointing 7-3 home loss to Braehead Clan and avenge last season’s defeat in the corresponding fixture against Flyers when a Derek Keller goal in the last second of overtime gave the Kirkcaldy outfit the bragging rights going into the New Year.

The Fifers currently sit above Caps in the table and Neil said: “We have a big game today and that is all we are focusing on right now.

“There are positives to take from Sunday, in that for the most part we competed well with the league’s second-placed team and, in my opinion, 7-3 was not a fair reflection of the way the game went.

“Our special teams were sloppy and let us down, and you can’t do that against a strong team like Braehead.”

Including Sunday’s defeat, and putting to one side Edinburgh’s miserable form on the road – just two wins from 16 – Edinburgh have won five out of their last seven home games, and Neil believes it won’t take much for the Caps to return to winning ways on home ice and even get back in the hunt for a play-off spot.

He said: “Arguably, over the last six or seven weeks, we have one of the best home records in the league. We’ve won five from seven in our building and that’s what our players and fans have to remember. We play some nice hockey here. Maybe we don’t always get the results but we need to find that confidence and work ethic that we were showing three or four weeks ago.

“We’re not drawing a line under this season. One way or another we have to build for the end of this campaign and into the next. We have to find the right formula and the right way to progress. A good run over two or three weeks could put us right back in contention, and that’s what we’ve got to strive for. I’m confident that we’ll give Fife a good game today and we’ll assess things from there.”

Despite back-to-back weekend defeats to Dundee Stars, Fife will roll into today’s fixture (kick-off 3.30pm) full of confidence, having won their last six matches against the men from the Riverside rink. Indeed, in a run that stretches into last season, Capitals fans have to look back to February for their last victory over the Flyers, a 7-2 win at Murrayfield.

Edinburgh expect to be at full strength ahead of a game that last year drew a crowd of more than 1400 and Capitals forward Curtis Leinweber expressed his and the team’s enthusiasm for a chance to end what has been an up-and-down 2013 for the club on a high.

Leinweber said: “It’s Fife at home on Hogmanay. We don’t need to be told anything to be up for this one. Last year we lost with less than a second left on the clock. Most of the guys from that team are back again and remember how it felt. We all know how important a game this is and we’ll be ready.”