Capitals have got the steel to face Sheffield

EDINBURGH CAPITALS play host to title-chasing Sheffield Steelers at Murrayfield tomorrow night (6pm) and tough-guy defenceman Jozef Sladok is up for the challenge.

The 6ft 5in Slokakian said: “Sheffield are a very good team, but we’re all motivated for the challenge ahead.

“We’re looking to go out there, play our game and get a result.”

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Capitals, without injured defensive duo Martin Petrina (knee), and Danny McIntyre (broken finger), will also be minus forward Bari McKenzie who is recovering from concussion. Edinburgh’s small squad has been struggling to cope with injuries this season and Sladok admits not having their full team available can be frustrating at times.

He said: “I don’t want to make excuses, but I think if we could have had a full squad, we would have picked up a couple more positive results.

“We’ve been a bit unlucky with injuries this season, especially on defence, I was hurt, Tomas (Valecko) was hurt, Martin (Petrina) has been injured three times, and now Danny McIntyre.

“It’s great to have a chance to play so many minutes, but sometimes it can be too much. We’ve been playing with only three defencemen, Richard Hartmann can drop back and does a great job, but then we lose him playing up front, so it’s not the best situation.

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“We’ll get through it, we’ve won games shorthanded and shown that we can play hockey, and when we’ve got a full squad hopefully we’ll play even better.”

Steelers currently sit third in the Elite League title race, 11 points behind pace setters Belfast Giants, but they have seven games in hand over the league leaders, and will no doubt be targeting the first of their five remaining fixtures against Edinburgh this season as must wins in order to make up some ground in the title race.

Capitals got 2012 off to the best possible start last time out when on Monday night they travelled to Kirkcaldy to face fierce local rivals Fife Flyers and came away with a 4-1 victory. Sladok, who played for Hull Stingrays last season, admits that he and the other players new to the team are still getting used to the Fife rivalry, but he was certainly pleased that the victory, which also halted a seven-game losing streak sent the fans home happy.

He explained: “It was great to beat them. At the beginning of the season it maybe didn’t mean that much to the imports, because we’re not from here, but once you get speaking to the fans and realise how much they want to beat Fife, it’s a thought that soon gets stuck in your head.”

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Meanwhile, it’s been a bad start to the new year for Fife Flyers as they announced that top points scorer, Mike Hamilton, has quit the club to join the South Carolina Stingrays in North America’s East Coast Hockey League, less than a week after fellow Canadian forward Matt Siddall walked out on the team who currently occupy last place in the Elite League.

Flyers director Jack Wishart commented: “This is a blow for the club so soon after the departure of Siddall to Zagreb but unfortunately there is little we can do about the situation.

“What we can promise our fans is we are working vigorously to replace these players as soon as we can and Todd (coach Todd Dutiaume) has several targets in his sights.”