Edinburgh Capitals take on rivals Fife Flyers in the last Forth derby of the season at Murrayfield tomorrow and player-coach Riley Emmerson wants to see a continuation of the fighting spirit shown by Callum Boyd, Kyle Bigos and the rest of his troops during their 4-1 home loss to Manchester Storm last time out.
It may be 13 straight defeats for the Capitals, but Emmerson is still pleased with the work-rate and heart shown by the men on his team-sheet, one that with a combination of player departures and injuries looks unrecognisable from the roster that started the season.
Emmerson said: “I thought we played pretty well last Sunday, especially after watching the game again on tape. We ran into a hot goalie and the bounces all fell their way. We hit the post a number of times as well so the result could easily have been very different”
It was a hot tempered game with 100 penalty minutes that included Kyle Bigos being thrown out for third-man-in, after he protected chippy-forward Callum Boyd from a beating by Storm’s Latvian internationalist Ricards Birzins.
Emmerson was delighted to see Bigos stick up for Boyd, who has wound up a few opposition players this season with his “in your face” attitude.
Emmerson, no stranger to the physical side of the game himself after playing the “enforcer role” in a ten year pro-career in North America, also wanted to commend skilled winger Ned Lukacevic after his last-minute fight at centre ice with Storm’s Matthew Paton, as he continued: “Boydy is absolutely playing the game the right way, he is someone who needs to play like that, he uses his speed and is hard on the fore-check and sometimes that upsets people. Bigos coming in to protect him shows the guys are still playing and battling for one another and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
“You’ve also go to give credit to Ned Lukacevic, he’s not a fighter, but it takes guts to drop the gloves, and it certainly wasn’t something he had to do. When he stepped up like that he showed he cared and that’s huge. I thought it was great, everybody is still working hard and we’re sticking together.
“Sunday is our last game of the season against Fife and we’re excited, they’ve had our number all year but it would be great if we could grab two points from them. It could be crucial in the long run.”
Edinburgh will welcome back from injury Canadian forward Brandon Thompson against an in-form Fife side who, after last week’s impressive 5-1 away win at Braehead Clan, have given themselves a realistic shot at pipping the Glasgow outfit or Dundee Stars for the Gardiner Conference title after building a four-point lead at the top of the table. However, both Clan and Stars have games in hand.
Emmerson said: “Yes this is a big game for Fife, but we have guys who want to be here, playing hard for a contract next year, guys like Thompson and Garrett Milan who, if they keep doing what they’re doing, will make it a hard choice for (club co-owner) Scott Neil and myself or whoever is in charge here next year.
“I’ve said it before but we owe a win like this to our fans. It’s been a very disappointing season, a couple of bad turns have seen us go down the wrong road, but the support the fans give us each week is fantastic. It’s the glue that holds us together.”