Capitals 5, Belfast Giants 6: Challenge Cup loss dismays coach

Capitals' first goal was scored by No.86 Alexander Islamov. Picture: Jan Orkisz
Capitals' first goal was scored by No.86 Alexander Islamov. Picture: Jan Orkisz
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New Edinburgh Capitals head-coach Dmitri Khristich cut a frustrated figure as his side went down to Belfast Giants at Murrayfield tonight.

The defeat followed Saturday’s 5-2 reverse at Fife Flyers and completed a poor first weekend of Challenge Cup action to begin the new ice hockey season.

After leading through a first period Alexander Islamov short-handed effort, Edinburgh capitulated in the second, Belfast scoring five times, firing 20 shots on a shell-shocked Capitals goalie Pavel Shegalo.

Khristich said: “Right now it looks like our team is trying to find out which way we can lose. Whether it be three goals in thee minutes, or five goals in one period, what else can we come up with?

“I hope that at this early stage this is something we can learn from, as the season moves on we will become a better team.”

In truth Belfast were the better team from the off, Caps doing well to survive some early Giants pressure before Islamov’s goal against the run of play. But nothing could prepare Edinburgh’s fans for the domination Giants enjoyed in the second stanza. They showed no ill effects from their long journey from Belfast in a game that was delayed by 20 minutes due to their late arrival. Giants towered over their opponents in every aspect of the game. The biggest surprise was that Edinburgh grabbed their second lead of the night following Belfast’s early second period equaliser, Dylan Anderson in the 26th minute making it 2-1 to Edinburgh after he was set up by Mike Cazzola.

Belfast were soon level through Spyro Goulakos, who latched on to a terrible Capitals pass from their own goal line to rip a shot past Shegalo. Caps just could not cope with the Giants fore-check who went ahead 3-2 through a slap-shot from just inside the blue-line from Cole Jarrett in the 33rd minute.

Edinburgh were not helped when Belfast scored a controversial fourth five minutes later. GB-internationalist Colin Shields grabbed a Denis Trakhanov lofted clearance, and instead of palming the puck down, held on to it, skated for two or three strides before dropping the puck on the end of his stick and rifling a shot beyond Shegalo. Fantastic skills, but he did seem to hold on to the puck for a long time. However, much maligned match referee Toby Craig saw nothing wrong with it and the goal stood. Darcy Murphy was then allowed to waltz in alone with Shegalo to add Giants’ fifth less than a minute later.

Asked what he said prior to the third period, Khristich continued: “I said to them, are we going for some sort of anti-record to start the season? I actually said after the first period that we had to do a better job in our defensive zone, but perhaps they thought I meant we had to play in our defensive zone, because we took the puck back in there, lost it and gave them those chances.”

Khristich’s words stung Edinburgh into action, who scored two quick goals through Taylor Stefishen and Cazzola to cut the deficit to 5-4 with 15 minutes still to play.

“I was pleased with their response in the third period,” said Khristich, “and I thank them for that, but we should never have found ourself in that position. We have to work hard this week, we have different guys doing different things, we’re not yet all on the same page.”

Giants killed the home-side’s momentum, scoring in the 48th minute through Sebastian Sylvestre on the power-play after Islamov had been called for boarding. When a blatant slash to Trakhanov was missed by Craig just a minute later, Islamov lost the plot, getting a ten minute misconduct penalty and sitting out the remainder of the game.

Caps set up a grandstand finish when Mike D’Orazio made it a one goal game, scoring a power-play goal with five minutes to play, but a late penalty to Sergei Banashkov killed Edinburgh’s chances of completing the comeback.