Edinburgh Capitals were unlucky to lose 4-3 to Belfast Giants at Murrayfield last night, and goalie Jordan McLaughlin believes struggling Caps can take heart from a performance that saw the threadbare squad push Belfast “all the way”.
McLaughlin was covering for the suspended starting goalie Pavel Shegalo and he also played in Saturday’s 9-0 hammering at league leaders Manchester Storm. This defeat ends an horrendous run of fixtures in which they have played nine games in 15 days.
McLaughlin, who turned 18 last Friday, said: “Belfast are probably one of the top teams in the league, so the fact we pushed them all the way gives the guys some confidence. Obviously there’s still mistakes there, and we’ll keep working to iron them out.
“It was a wild weekend, playing in Manchester wasn’t one of my best games, but it’s still great to be able to play.”
It looked like a Halloween horror show was on the cards as Belfast raced into a 2-0 lead in just 90 seconds. Ryan Martinelli scored on a rebound after McLaughlin saved with a pad, and Steve Saviano added a second on a break-away.
“As a goalie you can’t let those things play on your mind,” McLaughlin said: “It just throws you off your game completely; you’ve just got to blank it all and say to yourself ‘fresh start’”
Caps did well to kill a Jay King delay of game penalty, and received a power-play chance of their own when GB internationalist Colin Shields was sent to the sin bin for interference, and just as the power-play expired, Alexander Islamov popped the puck beyond Giants goalie Jackson Whistle after a nice feed from behind the net by Callum Boyd, to make it a 2-1 game in the 10th minute.
The home side went on to dominate the second half of the first period, and deservedly pulled level through Harry Ferguson who scored his first goal for the club after tenacious fore-checking from line mates Dillon Lawrence and Caly Robertson. Caps should have gone into the changing-room with a lead but both Marek Tvrdon and Igor Valeyev couldn’t beat Whistle from point-blank range.
A Tvrdon effort that hit the post was the closest Edinburgh came in a tight second period, the only goal coming the way of the visitors as Matt Bissonnette, on the power-play, tipped a Colin Shields shot from the blue line beyond McLaughlin. A highlight for the young netminder was a penalty-shot save, awarded to Darcy Murphy after he was hauled down by King.
Caps drew level again midway through the third period with Valeyev firing a shot through a sea of legs after Edinburgh had spent two minutes camped inside the Giants zone on the power-play, the goal scored just as penalised player, John Kurtz, returned to the ice.
Parity was short lived, however, as Giants scored the game winner in the 53rd minute, their power-play too good again as former NHL defenceman Jim Vandemeer blasted an effort beyond McLaughlin.
It was a spirited display from an Edinburgh team who only returned from a three-game road-trip, in which they shipped 23 goals, in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Capitals co-owner Scott Neil, who travelled with the team and took in the defeats by Coventry Blaze, Milton Keynes Lightning and Manchester, said: “We are very short of players just now. We need more depth and experience. Tiredness affected us on the trip for sure, but we lack quality, composure and focus when it comes to defensive responsibilities.
“We’re looking to have new players in within the next 14 days. We have to be very careful to bring in the right guys who can add what we are missing right now. We have just the one game this week, on Saturday at home to Braehead, and we’re hopeful we’ll have Michael D’Orazio and Dylan Anderson back from injury.”