Capitals’ challenge now is to make things click for league

Four of the Capitals pile towards the net in an attempt to score against Dundee. Picture: Jan orkisz/SMP
Four of the Capitals pile towards the net in an attempt to score against Dundee. Picture: Jan orkisz/SMP
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Edinburgh Capitals player-coach Richard Hartmann has assured fans he is not worried, despite last night’s 6-4 loss at Dundee Stars in their Challenge Cup

The result makes it impossible for the Murrayfield men to avoid finishing bottom of Group A and progressing to the knockout stage.

Double’s from Capitals’ hard-nosed forward Riley Emmerson and Edinburgh teenager Jay King were not enough to peg back an at-times slick Stars outfit, who raced to a three-goal lead within 16 minutes.

Hartmann, whose side have now lost all of their first five matches in the competition, said: “We started badly and struggled to get the puck out of our zone, and we made a lot of mistakes. We got back in the game at 5-3, and then pulled it to within a goal, but we didn’t have the energy to push even harder in the final minutes.”

Edinburgh, who were without the services of Swedish forward Daniel Naslund, who is expected to miss four weeks with a broken finger, plus their two most experienced defencemen in Joe Grimaldi (neck) and Lukas Bohunicky (shoulder), struggled to cope with the movement of the Stars players, for whom former AHL forward John Mitchell, with three goals and two assists, excelled.

“I always hate to lose,” continued Hartmann, “but I can’t criticise the effort the players are putting in. We scored good goals and it was great to see Jay King score two nice tip-ins on the power-play. We are missing players and it’s hurting us a lot.”

The result completed a disappointing weekend for the Caps, who were also defeated 3-2 by the same opposition at Murayfield on Saturday, and Hartmann continued: “I know we conceded a lot of goals, but in terms of the way I want the team to play I felt this was a better performance than Saturday. We created some big chances. Rene Jarolin had a couple where he was all alone with the goalie and if he’d put one away I’m sure the result would have been different.

“In possession our defence need to play smart and pass the puck early. We did that a little better and Emmerson scored off the back of a nice tic-tac-toe move, plus we created quality breakaway chances which we didn’t do in previous games because we over-skated from the back.”

Edinburgh now have the unenviable task of playing out their final three Challenge Cup fixtures as dead rubbers, beginning this weekend with home-and-away games against oldest rivals Fife Flyers.

Hartmann said: “We are not yet playing the way I want us to, we have to work on this and we will go hard in these remaining (Challenge Cup) games to try and get our system working and put us in a good frame of mind for the league. We have enough quality here; once things click, and we get our injured players back we’ll be good to go. I’m not worried.”

Jay King gave the visitors hope with a power-play goal three minutes from time, cleverly re-directing a Marcel Petran slap-shot past Stars goalie Marc Cheverie. Dundee, however, sealed the win in the last minute with an empty-net goal from Matt Ryan.

King said: “It’s pretty disappointing to play away from home, score four goals and not get anything. We’ve got tired legs and we’re making mistakes. We’ve come here with a short bench and paid for it.”

With only two recognised defencemen in the line-up, 18-year-old King, a product of the Murrayfield junior system and a Scotland Under-19 internationalist, played on the blue-line, switching to forward on the power-play, and the utility player who splits his time between Capitals Elite and Scottish National League squads, continued: “I’m really pleased. I’ll play any position.”

Meanwhile, Capitals SNL side continued their perfect start to the season, winning both their weekend fixtures. Saturday’s 5-1 victory at North Ayr Wild was followed up last night with an 18-0 win over Belfast Giants SNL at Murrayfield.