Players falling ill is pathetic, says Capitals coach Khristich

Mike Cazzola scores for Edinburgh Capitals against Milton Keynes Lightning. Pic: Jon Savage
Mike Cazzola scores for Edinburgh Capitals against Milton Keynes Lightning. Pic: Jon Savage
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Edinburgh Capitals’ poor form continued with a 5-2 home defeat to Elite League new-boys Milton Keynes Lightning at Murrayfield last night.

Caps, hampered by a mystery bug sweeping through the team, looked off the pace against the Lightning, who were playing their third game in as many nights.

Coach Dmitri Khristich admitted his team will find it very difficult to turn their form around until his players beat the bug that has been dogging them for the last two weeks.

Edinburgh were without Michael D’Orazio and Dylan Anderson through injury. Igor Valeyev was out with flu, and Sergei Banashkov, who began to feet unwell during Saturday’s 5-2 loss at Nottingham Panthers, was also missing.

Khristich said: “We need to get guys back who are injured or suffering from illness. Especially illness, it’s pathetic. We weren’t expecting a situation like this. We weren’t ready medically to deal with this, but it’s a two-way thing. Our players are professional and they should be able to take care of themselves. When they’re ill they need the right medical help, but they shouldn’t be getting ill in the first place. Nobody knows what’s wrong with them. Hopefully both will be back soon, but it’s hard to say, I’m not a doctor.

“We didn’t start with any jump. Saturday was better in that respect. We played like we were down. We hit the post three times. I’m not going to say that we were unlucky, it’s because we were not ready to play. Luck follows the best team and that’s why we didn’t get any.”

Milton Keynes started the stronger team, but Edinburgh certainly did not look outclassed and would have been disappointed to fall behind in the eighth minute. Capitals forward Mike Cazzola tried to stick-handle his way out of defence but lost the puck, leading to a superb chance for Milton Keynes that was scrambled home by Guillame Doucet.

Asked if that error set the tone for the game, Khristich replied: “We’re conceding bad goals like that every game. We are now in a situation where we are used to giving bad goals away, and no way is that something we should be feeling.”

Edinburgh did draw level early in the second period, Cazzola scoring form the doorstep on the power-play, assisted by Pavel Vorobyev and Marek Tvrdon.

Edinburgh then had their best spell of the game. Alexander Islamov, another player who had been laid low by the mystery bug, was unlucky not to give the hosts the lead on a re-direct from a Rihards Grigors slap-pass. But Caps fell behind, after giving away a bad penalty for too many men on the ice. Denny Kearney, tipped a shot beyond Edinburgh goalie Pavel Shegalo on the resulting power-play the 32nd minute.

The Caps defence were caught napping two minutes later, with nobody taking responsibility for Lightning’s Kyle Essery. He was allowed to stand unopposed in front of the net and pop home his own rebound after Shegalo failed to hold his initial point-blank effort.

Edinburgh did well early in the third period to survive a five-on-three power-play but conceded a poor goal almost as soon as they had returned to full strength, Kevin King scoring from a tight angle to make it 4-1 to the visitors in the 43rd minute.

Dillon Lawrence, who along with Callum Boyd and Duncan Speirs looked at times the club’s most dangerous players, pulled a goal back with 12 minutes to play, however Caps could not really make a game of it. Milton Keynes added their fifth goal with two minutes to spare.

Khristich concluded: The young guys certainly give us energy, and our more experienced players should look at that and play that way themselves, but everybody in the team is making mistakes in our zone and it needs to stop.

“We can’t expect our kids to get us out of this, they will help us of course, but we need to stick with our experienced guys, they need to play better they need to be the one’s to do it.”