Edinburgh Capitals, on the night of the retiral of city legend Tony Hand’s No.9 jersey, could be accused of taking the nostalgia too far.
They fittingly scored nine but, because of a shambolic defensive display, they lost 11-9 to Dundee Stars at Murrayfield in an ice hockey match more suited to the glory days of the Murrayfield Racers, when Hand set out on his playing career more than 30 years ago.
In an end-to-end affair in which the home team blow an 8-5 lead with just 14 minutes remaining, a quietly furious Capitals’ player-coach Riley Emmerson, said: “It was pond hockey out there. There was no defence, just attack, attack, attack. I’m speechless.
“I feel bad for all the fans who showed up to honour Tony. He was a goal-scoring machine; maybe we all thought we were Tony Hand last night.
“I’m just as much to blame as anyone else, I was out there for about five of the goals.
“We’ve got to learn from this, it’s a tough pill to swallow and two points lost that could come back to haunt us.”
There were 28 shots on target between the teams during the opening period which set the tone. Granted, this is the type of match fans love to see, but one all ice hockey coaches, purists, and especially goalies, despise.
Edinburgh, playing in specially made retro Racers shirts, exploded into a two-goal lead within four minutes through Nate Fleming and Callum Boyd, only for Stars to draw level through a double from Brett Switzer, the first of which was short-handed, the third game in a row Edinburgh have conceded with the man advantage.
Emmerson continued: “In the period breaks we talked about cleaning up definitively, and not just trying to blow the zone and look for breakaways, but it looks like we did the opposite.
“There were a couple of outside goals but our compete level, which was great in the offensive zone, wasn’t there defensively, it was ugly.
“I’ll be watching the video right away. I’ve said it before we need to know how to defend a third-period lead. We’ve got away with it in other games but last night we didn’t.
“We need our leaders, myself included, to step up and play the right way to get us back on track. We need to change the way our third periods are going and work on our defensive coverage.
“Other teams have games in hand and once they’re all done we could find ourselves out of a play-off spot.”
Stars, through former Capitals forward Lou Dickenson, and Riley Wetmore, answered a 25th minute Taylor Dickin goal to give the visitor a 4-3 advantage. However, a late flurry of second-period goals appeared to have turned things around for the home side going into the final 20 minutes.
Strikes from Craig McCallum, Dickin, Ryan Hayes and Kyle Bigos gave Edinburgh a 7–5 lead with Jason Gray scoring the fifth goal for Dundee.
It all got too much for Stars’ former Czech internationalist goalie Vlastimil Lakosil who was seen smashing his stick into pieces in the rink corridor before entering the locker room for the second-period break.
The experienced Czech would have the last laugh however, despite Edinburgh increasing their lead to 8-5 through Trevor Gerling in the 42nd minute.
Capitals, believing the game won, continued to go on the offensive only for Stars to draw level with three goals in eight minutes through Bobby Chaumont, John Dolan and a second of the game for Gray.
With three minutes remaining Chaumont and Fleming tied at 9-9, which would have been a fitting score as Tony Hand’s newly unfurled No.9 banner fluttered above the players down on the ice.
However, Stars were playing for points not sentiment and scored through Chaumont’s hat-trick goal and Doug Clarkson into an empty net in the final seconds, bringing the curtain down on the celebration of one great player’s career, and one crazy game of hockey.