Capitals to face Giants in support of breast cancer

Left to right : Curtis Leinweber, Jade Portwood, Brent Patry
Left to right : Curtis Leinweber, Jade Portwood, Brent Patry
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Ice hockey forward Jade Portwood and the rest of his Edinburgh Capitals team-mates will be doing more than the obligatory chocolates and flowers for Mother’s Day on Sunday.

When they square up to Belfast Giants in a crunch Elite League fixture at Murrayfield (face-off 6pm) they’ll do so wearing pink tops in aid of Breast Cancer Care’s Do it for Mum Campaign.

Together with a bucket collection on the night, the specially designed shirts will be game-worn then later auctioned off to fans, in a bid to raise as much money and awareness as possible. Portwood said: “Everyone’s pretty excited about it; it should be interesting to see what we all look like in our pink tops. It’s great to be able to help Breast Cancer Care in this way, and also tie it in with a shout-out to the Moms, who do a lot for us hockey players growing up. Certainly my Mother did a lot for me, and is a big reason why I’m playing hockey today.”

Second-placed Giants remain the only team Edinburgh have failed to beat at least once this season, and in all fairness they have not even come close to causing an upset against the Northern Irish outfit, losing their three previous encounters by a combined score of 18-2.

A strange statistic, bearing in mind how competitive Edinburgh have been against other teams in a much improved season, Portwood explained: “Against the Giants, it’s a mentality thing for us; sometimes you lose the game before you’ve even stepped out onto the ice.

“I remember the first time we went over to Belfast to play them and there was almost a feeling of ‘we don’t have much chance of winning this game’ (which resulted in a 9-1 defeat).

“The biggest thing going into Sunday is belief, and remembering that we’ve beaten top teams in this league, and that we can beat these guys.”

In their only game of the weekend, Edinburgh expect to be at full strength for the key clash, with Portwood, top-scorer Rene Jarolin, and young defenceman Willie Nicolson, making a return to the side that lost 6-1 last time out to hot title favourites Nottingham Panthers, only their second defeat in the last eight games.

Commenting on the loss, Portwood said: “I don’t think the score reflected the game. I thought after going two down early we were the better team for the rest of the period, and matched them throughout the game – until they scored the third and fourth goal, which was pretty deflating for the guys.”

With Edinburgh involved in a five-way battle for the three play-off spots, and Belfast trailing Nottingham by four points in the race for the title, Sunday’s match-up has the potential to be a barnstormer and Portwood continued: “Having a full line up is a big plus for us, everyone is going to have to pitch in, as it’s going to take a big team effort to get the right result.”

“We’ve been on a good run here, and now we’re all just focusing on the last five games, because if we want to make the play-offs, which has been our goal all year, we have to keep winning games.”

With Edinburgh player-coach Richard Hartmann already signed up for next season, Capitals fans are eagerly awaiting news of any who may follow suit. Portwood added: “I’ve not made any decisions about next year, but it’s certainly not been ruled out as a possibility.

“I’ve really enjoyed my time here, I love the guys on the team, the fans are great, and Edinburgh’s a great city . . . we’ll see.”

It’s fair to say that the likeable Canadian, on the subject of his future, is for the time-being, keeping mum.