Edinburgh Capitals coach Dmitri Khristich is demanding more from his experienced players as they try to arrest a three-game losing streak in ice hockey’s Elite League when travelling to Nottingham Panthers tomorrow before entertaining Milton Keynes Lightning at Murrayfield on Sunday (face-off 6pm).
Edinburgh were second-best in every department in a 5-1 home loss to Sheffield Steelers last time out, with 20-year-old Scottish forward Duncan Speirs, who scored his first goal for the club, providing the only highlight for the Capitals faithful.
Caps will hope for a return to action from Igor Valeyev and Alexander Islamov, who both missed the Sheffield game through illness, but will be minus injured duo Taylor Stefishen and club captain Michael D’Orazio for the trip to Nottingham.
Khristich said: “Against Sheffield, we had four big imports missing, out injured or with the flu. It really restricted our scoring opportunities. But we scored a goal through the Brits and that was good to see but, on the other side of the coin, we have guys not up to their game and that needs to change.
“We’re about to play six games in a short space of time, with four of them on a the road. As a team, we need to improve our attitude in terms of game preparation and make sure we are ready to play.”
Asked to elaborate on the contribution of Speirs, who joined Edinburgh this summer from Solway Sharks, Khristich continued: “It’s definitely a plus. If you remember, I’ve also had him playing defence and he didn’t do too badly there either. He’s more used to playing as a forward. He took his goal well, and could have had two against Sheffield when he hit the post late on.
“Where I use him now depends on the team situation. He can play both, but he also has a lot to learn.”
Speirs, who also holds down a full-time job with audio visual specialists Dizzyfish, attributes his goal to the work of fellow young Scottish player Callum Boyd, and looks to be enjoying life as a Capital despite the teams current woes.
Speirs said: “It was nice to get my first goal. It was all Boydy really. He did well down the wing and laid on a pass for me – all I had to do was put it in.
“I’m getting ice-time right now. It’s something I need to take advantage of and show what I can do.
“We’re definitely struggling, with a lot of imports out, but we need to keep going. The coach has told us we need to keep trying and that we need to get more physical. That’s something he’s always saying – other teams are hitting us and we need to start hitting back.”
Speirs, a GB U20 internationalist who last season scored 13 goals in the National Ice Hockey League with Solway, continued: “Its good (the Elite League). Everything is no much faster and more physical, you have no time on the puck, and there are a lot more turnovers. I struggle in the defensive zone sometimes. It’s something I still need to learn.
“Defence is a position I’d never played before. We were short in the pre-season games, and coach asked if I would mind dropping back, so I just went with it.
“I’m living in Edinburgh, but I work all over Scotland with Dizzyfish. They’ve been a big help, though, and make sure I can make all the practices. It’s a lot of hard work, being on the ice every day and working. I’m tired, but I’m enjoying it.”