Edinburgh Capitals teenage net-minder Jordan McLaughlin revealed team-mates told him to “hold his head high” following his performance in Thursday’s 8-2 defeat at Milton Keynes Lightning.
Caps, who could only muster nine full-time players for their midweek games at Sheffield Steelers and Milton Keynes, can expect to be similarly short benched at Belfast Giants tonight and when they host Elite League leaders Cardiff Devils at Murrayfield tomorrow (face-off 6pm)
McLaughlin, who is 18 and in just his fifth start of the season, faced a staggering 56 shots, in 55 minutes of action – with regular No.1 Tyler Beskorowany stepping in for a short five-minute spell towards the end of the second period facing seven shots. Milton Keynes obliterated the embarrassingly short-benched Caps, firing more than one shot-on-goal per minute in the one-side affair.
Capitals have won only four league games this season and seem in no position to replace Pavel Vorobyev and Nikita Kolesnikovs, the most recent in a spate of player departures which have plagued the club since October, although Edinburgh did put an offer out to Canadian forward Dan Correalle, who instead penned a deal with Fife Flyers yesterday, and McLaughlin said: “It’s always good to get to play, and a good learning experience. It was a lot tougher than most of the games I’ve played for the Caps this season just because we were so short of numbers.
“We put in a very good performance against Sheffield the night before but with the lack of numbers we couldn’t have kept that up for two games on the bounce, especially the way Milton Keynes came at us. They knew if they came out with their fresh legs all guns blazing they would really test us and, credit to them, they did well.
“They picked up every rebound I gave out, which is the way it goes sometimes, but Besko told me to keep my head high because the result wasn’t really my fault, which is nice to hear, although there are a few of the goals I’d definitely want back.”
Despite the club’s woes McLaughlin still seems to be enjoying life as a Cap, soaking up the experience of his second season playing top-flight British ice hockey, and learning from former German Elite League goalie of the year, Beskorowany after the Canadian joined the club last month.
McLaughlin said: “He’s been giving me tips, but just being able to watch him play has been a massive help to me, he’s been drafted by the NHL and he knows his job very well. To see the way he goes about his business, how he positions himself and how he angles to the shooter so they can only put the puck in one place is a massive help.”
Last summer Caps held out high hopes for what has been a disastrous season, bringing in Ukrainian NHL legend Dmitri Khristich as coach, and recruiting a large number of Russian speaking players. McLaughlin, now in his second year with the first-team squad continued: “Last year, especially compared to the start of this season, there was more team spirit.
“With there being so many Russian players, who couldn’t really speak English, there was a divide in the changing room between English and Russian speakers, but you had the odd guy like Pavel (Vorobyev) who could speak both.
“Last year we could all speak to each other and get along, where as this year there’s more separation and little groups.
“But the main reason we’ve struggled is we’ve had so many players leave. Now we have a shortage of imports and lack of scoring depth.
“If we keep key guys from this year like Dylan Anderson and Mike Cazzola (who are both contracted to return next season), keep Mike D’Orazio as coach (who stepped in for Khristich after he was let go in December), and allow him to bring in players he knows can play the systems he wants to run then I think the Caps can have a strong team next year.
“This season we tried something different and it just hasn’t worked.”