Edinburgh Capitals player-coach Michael D’Orazio has applauded the Elite League, hailing the “great job” they have done in implementing the four-man officiating system introduced for all league games at the turn of the year.
With the change to two-match referees – along with two line officials – taking charge of each game, the UK top-flight now falls in to line with many of the world’s top leagues.
The Murrayfield faithful got their first taste of the new set up when Neil Wilson and Pavel Halas took charge of last Sunday’s 2-1 penalty-shot defeat to Dundee Stars. D’Orazio, speaking ahead of two tough games for the Caps this weekend, at Fife Flyers on Saturday and at home to Manchester Storm on Sunday (face-off 6pm), said: “I like it. They’ve done a great job. Obviously, we’re not going to agree with some calls but that’s hockey and it happens at the highest level. I’m happy guys aren’t getting away with the stick work that they were before. As long as it’s consistent, then I’m happy with it.”
With video-review brought in at the start of the season to determine whether pucks cross the goal-line, the four-man system is another step in the right direction for a league that is improving on the ice year-on-year. However, when Wilson and Halas attempted to use that innovation to determine whether a third-period Nikita Kolesnikovs slap-shot could be awarded as a goal on Sunday, they found the TV monitor at Murrayfield was not working.
D’Orazio said: “In some rinks, that’s actually not working. Nicky (Kolesnikovs) took a shot off the post and they reviewed it here, but when they turned to the screen it was just black so it didn’t work. There are still improvements to be done but it’s another step in the right direction.”
Luckily for all concerned, video viewed at a later date showed the puck did not cross the line. However, Capitals management will need to ensure this does not happen again before they are left with even more egg on their face in what has been a terrible season for the club.
The Murrayfield men have not won in 16 games, although on Sunday they were unlucky not to finally put that unwanted streak to bed despite missing six first-team regulars.
Last weekend saw a long-awaited debut for new goalie Tyler Beskorowany, the 27-year-old Dallas Stars second-round draft pick and 2015 German Elite League goalie of the year. The Canadian looked very solid and, coming off an 18-month injury lay-off, will surely improve further as he returns to match fitness.
D’Orazio, who alongside Capitals bench coach stalwart Jock Hay took over the reigns last month from former head coach Dmitri Khristich, is expecting to give Fife a much closer game than the last time they visited Kirkcaldy, a 10-1 capitulation on Boxing Day.
D’Orazio continued: “For whatever reason, we’ve had a hard time playing there this season, but this week we’ve worked hard, we’ve looked at video, we’ll be prepared. It’s just a matter of controlling what we can and that’s work ethic, concentration and accountability.
“We’re not intimidated. We just need to take it one game at a time, one period at a time, one shift at a time. That’s what we’re preaching here to get out of this slump. Once you start thinking long-term you start losing focus on what you have to do that’s right in front of you.
“Patrik Moisio and Rihards Grigors will be back in the line-up (after recovering from illness). It’s too soon to see a return for Dillon Lawrence or Plewsy (Tyler Plews). Sergei (Banashkov) could play a part this weekend but we’re not sure and Boydy (Callum Boyd) has been back skating this week and says he feels good. Hopefully he’ll give us the thumbs up and be ready to go tomorrow.”