Edinburgh Capitals rounded off their participation in the inaugural Elite League Scottish Cup by winning 3-0 against Dundee Stars in the third/fourth place match at Murrayfield yesterday.
After Saturday’s 4-2 semi-final loss to eventual winners Braehead Clan, and although missing the chance to win the first silverware of the new season, coach Dmitri Khristich declared himself pleased with the weekend, citing it as ideal preparation for the league and Challenge Cup campaigns ahead.
They begin with a cup match at Fife Flyers on Saturday.
Khristich said: “It’s been a great weekend. It was nice to have another two games to prepare for the season, and to play with a cup on the line.”
Caps could count themselves unlucky to be on the losing side on Saturday, but found Clan goalie Ryan Nie too good between the pipes and were hindered by a performance that looked soft defensively at times.
Edinburgh’s goals were scored by Sergei Banashkov and Igor Valeyev. Khristich added: “All five (pre-season) games we’ve played have been very even. It was nice to pick up the win against Dundee but it was just a shame we couldn’t manage that on Saturday.
“In hockey there has to be an outcome one way or another, and the more we work and practise together the more we’ll find the result goes in our favour.
“We have a lot to do, especially in our defensive zone. Sometimes we panic and look like we don’t know where to run, and struggle to get the puck out. We’ll be working hard this week on our play in all three zones, as well as the power-play and penalty kill.”
Edinburgh wrapped up third place without Callum Boyd (injury) and Tyler Plews (illness), in a predictably low-key affair, all the goals coming in the second period through Mike Cazzola, Banashkov and a power-play marker from Mike D’Orazio. Capitals goalie Pavel Shegalo completed 28 saves for his shut-out, the first for an Edinburgh netminder in three years and team-mate Taylor Stefishen was delighted for the 23-year-old Russian.
Stefishen said: “It was good for him, he’s been paying well, it’s a different experience coming over here having played in Russia his entire life, and he’s getting used to the British game.
“It was nice to get some goals today, and get some confidence. Next week is when we really need to get going because that’s the beginning of the regular season. There’s a lot of positives, we’re just happy to get the win and build off of that.
“It’s a learning curve for all of us, we’re getting used to playing with one another; we’re headed in the right direction for sure.”
In truth, the new weekend-long tournament failed to capture the imagination of the fans, with even the final – an all-out brawl that those in attendance thoroughly enjoyed with Clan running out 3-1 winners over Fife Flyers – played to a half-full Murrayfield ice rink.
However, it is only the beginning and Capitals co-owner Scott Neil is keen for all four clubs to work together to grow the event in future. It is scheduled to be played in Kirkcaldy’s Fife Ice Arena next season.
Neil said: “We’re trying to mimic the Elite League finals weekend in Nottingham and make this a Scottish version. It will take work to build it to that level.
“We had planned for a fan-zone in the SRU compound next door, with music, stalls, food and drink, but that had to all be pulled when the football got moved to Murrayfield. That was a big downer in our forward planning. It became very difficult logistically to put on the event we had imagined.
“This tournament has a lot of potential to be a big event to start the season and all four clubs are determined to keep it going; a lot of the grass-roots works for future years has already been done.”