Edinburgh Capitals player-coach Michael D’Orazio described the “awesome feeling” as his side snapped a 15-game losing streak with a 4-3 win over Manchester Storm at Murrayfield last night.
Ainars Podzins grabbed the winner with six minutes remaining, scoring twice in a man-of-the-match performance, and new starting netminder Tyler Beskorowany was hailed by his coach as he made several clutch saves as Caps held on for their first win since a 5-3 home success over Dundee Stars last November.
A delighted D’Orazio, who took over coaching duties after Dmitri Khristich left the club last month, said: “It feels great, and it’s fun to win. We played a full 60 minutes, Besko made the saves when we really needed them the most, and when they tied the game in the third period we didn’t get down. We took it to them, we battled and got rewarded.
“I’m a big fan of (current Toronto Maple Leaf head-coach, and former Nottingham Panthers defenceman) Mike Babcock and I listen to a lot of his speeches. He talks about making your own puck-luck and if you work hard in practice things will go your way. That’s what I’m preaching, we worked hard, we went to the dirty areas, and we got rewarded with some timely goals.”
Edinburgh battled from the off, but were up against it as the visitors dominated the opening minutes and Beskorowany was called into action on several occasions before, against the run of play, Edinburgh’s Sergei Banashkov rifled a finish beyond Storm netminder Mike Clemente, from a well worked break up the ice set up by Mike Cazzola and Pavel Vorobyev.
Storm did not dominate the second half of the opening period in the same vein but capitalised on two very poor pieces of defending from the home side to take a 2-1 lead after 20 minutes.
Storm equalised out of nothing just before the 15 minute mark, Caps defenders going walk-about, leading to Shane Bakker and Ciaron Long being clean through on Beskorowany, the latter applying a simple finish. Three minutes later experienced Russian defenceman Konstantin Teslyukevich refused a simple pass out of the zone only to fire the puck behind his own goal. The eager Storm fore-check won the puck back on the boards, leading to Declan Balmer cleverly directing a Luke Moffatt slap-pass beyond Beskorowany.
Asked what he said to his players after the opening period, D’Orazio continued: “Being in our situation, losing all these games, you need to put a positive spin on everything, you can’t just be negative, because we’re down in the dumps right now.
“We had a good first 15 minutes, but for whatever reason we let them take the game to us in the last five. We just talked about winning the next period and taking things shift by shift.”
Indeed it took just one shift for Edinburgh to equalise, Cazzola, forcing his way between two Storm defenceman to convert Vorobyev’s pass from out wide just 30 seconds after the restart.
Storm then ran into penalty trouble and Podzins, with a smart finish, gave Capitals a 3-2 lead, converting on a five-on-three power-play opportunity at 25 minutes and six seconds.
Edinburgh were also falling foul of eagle-eyed match referees Steve Brown and Pavel Halas, but crucially killed off the penalties, including a five-on-three opportunity with both Cazzola and Vorobyev in the box for hooking. They went into the second period break with a slender one-goal advantage that was wiped out five minutes into the third period, Dallas Ehrhardt with the goal, somewhat controversially as the nets were clearly off their moorings prior to the puck crossing the line.
Capitals, who lost Igor Valeyev to injury, were depleted further when Rihards Grigors was ejected from the game for a check-to-the-head in the 47th minute. On the resulting power-play Storm thought they had equalised with a well worked drive to the net, however, again the net was knocked off it’s moorings, but this time the goal was wiped off.
With the majority of the play in the Edinburgh zone, it took a tremendous Beskorowany reflex save for Caps to break up ice and Dylan Anderson to find Podzins in the slot for what proved to be the game winner at 54 minutes and 16 seconds.