Edinburgh Capitals play their marquee fixture of the season at Murrayfield on Sunday – the now traditional Hogmanay Forth derby – against oldest rivals Fife Flyers (face-off 4pm).
Capitals were thoroughly embarrassed when the two sides met in Kirkcaldy on Boxing Day, Flyers romping to a 10-1 win in which starting net-minder Pavel Shegalo quit the game of his own accord after just minutes, to be replaced by 18-year-old under-20s goalie Jordan McLaughlin.
New Capitals’ player/coach Michael D’Orazio, who takes his side to Belfast Giants tonight in a busy festive schedule, is adamant he wont be afraid “to show players the door” if he witnesses a repeat performance like that on Sunday.
Canadian defenceman D’Orazio, in his second year at the club, has, along with experienced bench coach Jock Hay, taken over the reins since Edinburgh parted with head-coach Dmitri Khristich earlier this month.
Edinburgh won only three league games from 24 starts under Khristich. D’Orazio and Hay, in their three games in charge to date, have themselves yet to oversee a victory, however, with the games over the festive period coming thick and fast, Caps gave a good account of themselves against Belfast at Murrayfield last week, and pushed Braehead Clan all the way in a 3-1 loss that included an empty-net goal last time out on Wednesday. It’s just unfortunate these improved performances were sandwiched between their worst showing of the season, with Fife recording their biggest ever win in the Elite League era.
D’Orazio said: “We’ve been trying to emphasise work ethic, and what happened in Fife was a disaster. We had a meeting with the guys and that’s not going to happen again. Jock and I are not going to put up with an effort like that. We need to install some accountability on our team and if guys don’t want to work we’ll show them the door, end of story.
“If you want to be here and work hard then we want you. We have a system to play now and we expect you to play that system, and we expect nothing less than a good work ethic.
“We’re implementing a system that allows us to cut down on our shots against, we out-shot Braehead 25-22 on Wednesday and earlier in the season we were giving up 40 shots, so we’re seeing an improvement there, but it takes time and guys are still learning the system.
“We want to play in the middle of the ice instead of the boards. Once you give a team the middle of the ice they hold all the cards, so we’ll give them the outside and try to help Jordan and our other goalies as much as we can.”
Local boy McLaughlin who, like everyone in a Caps shirt, had a night to forget on Boxing Day, gave a much better account of himself last time out against Braehead, and is expected to be the man between the pipes until Canadian former East Coast Hockey League and German Elite League all-star, Tyler Beskorowany, joins the team next weekend.
D’Orazio revealed McLaughlin will play in Belfast this evening against one of only three teams Edinburgh have beaten in all competitions this season. “Jordan did well (against Braehead), there was a couple of saves he made on back-door plays that looked like goals for sure, and those are the saves we need for us to have a chance to win the game and he came up with them. He played very well and kept us in the game the whole time.
“Jordan will start. Belfast are a veteran team at the top end of the table, we’ve been up for it when we’ve played them this year, especially in their building. I don’t know why that is, maybe it’s just the chance to play in a NHL-style rink, but I expect the same effort tonight.”