Recent arrival Les Reaney has revealed that despite being thousands of miles away from North America’s Central Hockey League, Edinburgh and the UK’s Elite League is beginning to feel a lot like home.
All-Star and play-off MVP who arrived on these shores with a big reputation, is looking to help Edinburgh Capitals break a run of seven straight ice hockey defeats as they prepare for two crucial Gardiner Conference match-ups this weekend, beginning tomorrow with a trip west to face Braehead Clan.
Ahead of a third clash in as many weeks against their Scottish rivals, Reaney said: “I’ve managed to get out a couple of times with the boys and Edinburgh’s beautiful, you couldn’t ask for a better place. Hockey-wise, we’ve struggled off the bat here a little bit, but it’s a long season. We’ve just got to minimise our mistakes and get back to doing the simple things right.
“Every team has their highs and lows, but it’s tough coming out of the gate when you have a lot of new faces and everybody’s just learning to play for one another. We’re all out here five days a week practicing hard. You’ve just got to work even harder to find your breaks and find line-mates that compliment each other.
“Throughout the league I’ve noticed there are a lot of good North American hockey players. A lot of these guys I’ve played with or against back home so there are a lot of familiar faces like Eddie McGrane from Braehead – a lot of good goal-scorers and that’s why they’ve been brought over here. I guess that’s why I’m here too so I’ve got to start pulling my weight.”
Reaney, who plays the game with a constant grin on his face and is always ready with a word or two for his opposite number, has not taken long to live up to his reputation as a player who can get under the skin of opponents.
Playing the well-known hockey role of agitator – or, to put it parochially, “wind-up merchant” – means treading a constant fine line with officials, and like his contemporaries, he has not escaped suspensions in the past. After last Sunday’s 3-2 defeat to Braehead Clan at Murrayfield, Reaney spent some time catching up with Clan’s currently suspended American defensive hard-man Chris Frank, who he describes as a player that he “battled with” back in his college days.
Speaking on what he does to get the opposition so riled up he said: “I don’t really say much and that’s the honest truth. In my first game here at Murrayfield, in fact it was my first shift I drew a four-minute penalty and had three guys trying to fight me. Ed McGrane and I were laughing about it. He said to me it doesn’t matter where I play or what league I go to – I always just seem to find that role. It’s not a bad one to have. If I can draw penalties and help the team out I’ll take that any day.”
Edinburgh conclude their weekend on Sunday with a home-clash with fellow strugglers and oldest rivals Fife Flyers at Murrayfield (face-off 6pm).
With both teams having won only once in the league this season, the losers will find themselves marooned at the foot of the table. With all the ingredients for a feisty encounter, Reaney will not be looking for a quiet night.