Edinburgh Capitals booked their place in the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup in dramatic fashion at Murrayfield last night. scoring five unanswered third-period goals in a come-from-behind 6-4 win over Fife Flyers – a performance Caps’ co-owner Scott Neil described as “Roy of the Rovers stuff”.
Edinburgh, with their fourth win in the group stages of the competition, join Belfast Giants and Dundee Stars in the last eight, leaving Fife and Braehead Clan to battle it out for the remaining spot.
It looked for much of the night as if a different outcome was on the cards as Edinburgh got away from the solid defensive game that has served them so well of late and allowed Fife to build a 4-1 lead after 40 minutes.
Experienced Flyers forward Ryan Dingle did much of the damage, scoring the opening goal and laying on three more in a devastating six minutes early in the second period. Matt Sisca with two, and Chase Schaber scoring.
Capitals forward Pavel Vorobyev, with a power-play marker in the 24th minute, registered Edinburgh’s only reply.
In truth, Edinburgh looked solid in the opening period and were unlucky to go behind, but Fife upped the tempo in the second, only for Edinburgh to find a different gear in the third and completely blitz their opponents for 20 minutes.
A delighted Scott Neil said: “Qualifying for the quarter-finals of this competition was our first goal of the season, it’s something we’ve never done before and what a fantastic way to do it. To score five goals in the third period against Fife was tremendous, real Roy of the Rovers stuff.”
Matt Tipoff got the comeback under-way just two minutes into the final period, his smart shot on the turn flew past Shane Owen in the Flyers net, who until that point looked almost unbeatable.
There was a massive degree of luck involved in Edinburgh’s third less than a minute later, a slap-shot from Edinburgh player-coach Michal Dobron was going well wide of goal until the puck cannoned into the face of Flyers’ blue-liner Thomas Muir, bounced down and trickle over the goalline.
The home fans inside Murrayfield were going wild, and minutes later Edinburgh were level. Some smart stick work from a tight angle from Tipoff bamboozled Owen and the Canadian forced it home to make it four a-piece.
Fife, who were missing key defenceman David Turon, looked a beaten side even before Ian Schultz, who was expected to miss the game through injury, scored his first Capitals goal with less than five minutes remaining after bulldozing his way to the net to apply the finish after being set up by Jared Staal.
Fife had a chance to draw level when they were awarded a late power-play. Coach Todd Dutiaume withdrew Owen to give his side a two-man advantage but his bravado back-fired as Vorobyev latched on to a pass from Jacob Johnston to slot home Edinburgh’s sixth into the empty net at 57 minutes and 52 seconds.
Scorer of the key goal, Ian Schultz, although delighted with the result, claimed there was no doubt in the minds of the Edinburgh players that they could turn the game around.
Schultz said: “We just told ourselves to stay calm, we knew we could score three goals if we played the right way. We started to get a few bounces and calls here and there and that’s exactly what happened.
“We showed a lot of guts out there, but we never had any doubt we could do it, we’ve already put ourselves behind the eight ball a couple of times this season but we’re playing with confidence, we just need to remember no matter if we’re up or down we need to play the game the same way. If you do that you get results and tonight was a perfect example.”
“They were playing short staffed and I think it showed in the end, but my hat goes off to them because they stuck with it, I think we just managed to wear them down.
“We’re accomplishing things the Caps have never done before and we’re building a winning mentality and that’s exciting to be a part of.”