Exhausted Edinburgh Capitals, missing six players through injury and illness, took Dundee Stars all the way at Murrayfield tonight, eventually going down 2-1 after penalty shots.
Caps missed a great chance to take the two points with a five-on-three power-play opportunity in overtime, but failed to convert with the extra man, much to the ire of bench coach Jock Hay.
Hay said: “I’m disappointed, we should have won that with the five on three we had at the end, I don’t think we got a shot on the net.
“I’m pleased with the effort we showed, that was great all game, especially being so short benched.
“We should say well done to Dundee for killing off the penalties. But from our perspective we didn’t move the puck quick or well enough and they managed to set up defensively before we were in a shooting position.
“Once we get some bodies back – and if we show that level of concentration and commitment – we will get some results and start putting some points on the board.”
With so many players out, Edinburgh also missing Sergei Banashkov who scored twice in the 7-4 loss at Dundee on Saturday, the game was slowed, in ice hockey terms, to walking pace and played with only two forward lines. Nikita Kolesnikovs, one of only four fit Capitals defenceman, had the game’s first shot on goal and Caps had the better of the opening exchanges. Stars’ netminder Travis Fullerton did well to slide across his goal and glove a fierce one timer from Pavel Vorobyev in the fifth minute.
Dundee, who themselves had a crippling injury list earlier in the season, are almost back to full strength and starting to play some of their best hockey, and just as the first penalty of the game, called against Edinburgh’s Konstantin Teslyukevich, had expired, Stars’ player-coach Omar Pacha opened the scoring with a shot from the top of the left-hand circle that beat new Edinburgh netminder Tyler Beskorowany in the eighth minute.
Caps did well to finish the first period just one goal down, killing another Teslyukevich penalty, with Beskorowany making some smart stops, notably from Marc-Olivier Mimar, as the visitors did a good job of holding the puck deep in the Capitals zone and setting up the late man for some grade ‘A’ chances.
Caps were given a helping hand to get themselves back in the game as Stars ran into penalty trouble of their own early in the second period, the visitors had already killed off a 21st minute penalty for a hook on Dylan Anderson, before man-of-the match Anthony Mastrodicasa and Ben Edmonds visited the sin-bin in quick succession giving Edinburgh a two-man advantage, and it was Anderson who took charge, batting the puck out of the air and into the net after a rebound from a Kolesnikovs slap-shot in the 26th minute.
Stars still had more of the puck, out-shooting Edinburgh 11 to eight in the second frame, but Caps still had their chances, a Harry Ferguson effort in the 32nd minute was labelled for the top-corner but was swatted away by Fullerton. Stars broke with the rebound and Dundee local boy, Jordan Cownie, forced a great Beskorowany glove save at the other end.
In the first game at Murrayfield played under the “four man system”, already used in widely across the world and only recently adopted by the Elite League, match referees Pavel Halas and Neil Wilson called penalties on both sides throughout the final period.
Kolesnikovs, Capitals’ man of the match, almost gave Edinburgh the lead when his slap-shot from the point hit the post in the 47th minute, Halas and Wilson checking the video replay to ensure the Latvian’s rocket of a shot stayed out.
In the final minutes Capitals looked desperate to hold on for at least a point for taking the game to overtime before the momentum turned with three late penalties called against Dundee with less than three minutes to play, but Edinburgh simply looked to out of puff to create any meaningful chances, even with the advantage of two extra men.
Mimar, ensured the extra point went back to Tayside, scoring the winner in the shoot-out lottery.