Strong words from player-coach Richard Hartmann and a gutsy shorthanded goal from Jade Portwood inspired Edinburgh Capitals to a 3-2 bounce-back victory over Dundee Stars at Murrayfield last night.
The victory came only 24 hours after one of their worst displays of the season saw them demolished 7-1 at Hull Stingrays.
Edinburgh, who do not play again until Boxing Day, can go into their ten-day break in good spirits after their first win in five attempts over the Tayside men. And Hartmann said: “Saturday was a total disaster, we gave away so many soft goals, but tonight we played like one unit. We were playing hard in the defensive end, battling in the corners, and blocking shots. With the system we play – the better we do defensively the more chances to score we create – as it allows us to do what we’re good at going forward. You only need to look at the results of the two games to see what a difference that all makes.
“After Saturday I said a lot of hard words to the boys. They need to realise that they’re not only playing for this team, but for themselves and their future careers. To be successful you need to come out and play every game not just one game a week.”
Edinburgh started brightly as Curtis Leinweber and Hartmann went close before, in the ninth minute, Tomas Horna finished off a well-worked power-play move involving Leinweber and returning Czech star Michal Dobron, who only arrived back in the country yesterday after missing the last two games for personal reasons.
Edinburgh hit penalty trouble midway through the second period, but with three Caps players in the sin bin, Dundee wasted a great chance, including a minute of five on three, to at least draw level and the travelling support were dismayed when Portwood dived low to block a shot from the blue line by Stars defenceman Rory Rawlyk, then took advantage of a slip by the same player to skate the length of the ice and score shorthanded at 35.32.
The delighted Canadian explained: “At the face-off I told Danny (McIntyre): ‘I’ve got Rawlyk.’ I knew he liked to shoot, I saw him winding up and I went down and managed to block it. Luckily it didn’t hurt too much and I was able to get up pretty quickly and when I saw him fall I got to the puck first. I managed to get down the ice and shoot it just where I wanted it.
“I thought we played really well. The defence played great and the forwards did a good job back-checking. Usually we concede a couple of sloppy goals – tap-ins at the back door because we’ve not picked someone up – but the two goals Dundee scored they had to work really hard for.”
Dundee were indeed working hard and pulled a goal back through Mike Wirll, who did well to reach a pass that seemed behind him, and whilst on his knees, he fired a powerful shot past Caps netminder Tomas Hiadlovsky.
With just less than ten minutes remaining Hartmann scored what proved to be the game-winner shooting from an angle into an empty net after being set up by Horna. Stars, who with a victory would have moved up to second place in the Elite League, set up a nervy finish when club top-scorer Nico Sacchetti drove the net and slid a shot one-handed under the sprawling Hiadlovsky at 52.58.
After a run of four defeats the win leaves Edinburgh two points behind Fife Flyers at the foot of the table, although the Kirkcaldy outfit have four games in hand. The Caps face Flyers on Boxing Day.
Portwood concluded:” It was really important to go into this break with a win and get us looking on the bright side of things again. It sets things up for a big game against the Flyers on Boxing Day.”