Edinburgh Capitals forward Mason Wilgosh admits fans could be in for another “feisty” affair as Caps travel to Braehead Clan tomorrow, the first of two important Gardiner Conference games this weekend as Edinburgh try to claw their way off the bottom of the Elite League.
The sides last met over the festive period, and there was little goodwill on display. Edinburgh were beaten 7-3 at Murrayfield, but only after the game boiled over following Corey Cowick’s check-to the-head and a sucker punch to the face of Edinburgh’s Jared Staal, resulting in a concussion for the former Carolina Hurricanes winger.
Cowick (four games) and Capitals’ defenceman Rihards Grigors (two games) were suspended following the ill-tempered affair – Grigors for a cross-check, late in the game, to the back of the head of Clan blue-liner Cody Carlson.
Wilgosh, when asked if a match like that can be used as a motivational tool for tomorrow’s encounter, said: “Yes it can, we’re in for a hard game, and what happened last time will be in the back of everybody’s mind. We all remember, and the best way to get back at them for what they did to us is to beat them on the scoreboard.
“It’s a fast, physical sport and sometimes things like that happen in hockey. It will be a tough battle, and it could be another feisty one.
“Braehead is the first of two huge games. These Conference games are so important, we play each other all the time, we’re all close to one another in the standings and we’re all battling for the same spots.
“We can’t afford to come away from this weekend with nothing. We’ll be gunning for four points, but we need at least two to keep pace with the teams above us.”
Staal, with 13 goals and 15 assists for 28 points in all competitions, is third in scoring for Edinburgh, and has not played since the incident, missing the past five games. However, it is understood he is back in training and could figure at some point this weekend. Wilgosh continued: “We’ve really missed him these last couple of weeks.
“He’s been back skating and taking things day by day, and when he’s ready to come back he’ll be a big difference for us. He’s a guy who puts in a ton of work, he’s a big body who can hit, he makes chances and he scores goals, he does everything.”
Edinburgh complete their weekend by entertaining Fife Flyers at Murrayfield on Sunday (face-off 6pm). The Kirkcaldy outfit, led by experienced and red-hot forward Ryan Dingle, have made light work of Edinburgh recently winning their last two encounters, outscoring Caps 15 goals to six in the process with Dingle having a hand in nine of them.
“Fife are a tenacious, fast, skilled team and we know how they’ll play on Sunday,” Wilgosh said: “We need to focus on our own game, on how we’re going to play and set up in our ‘D’ zone. Taking care of our own side of things is always key for us.”
And on Dingle, who has won the Elite League’s player of the week award, Wilgosh continued: “You’ve got to pay attention to guys like that; he’s been scoring a lot of goals and creating a lot of chances for others recently. We need to make sure he doesn’t keep his hot streak going. It’s down to us to play well as a team, if we do that we’ll limit his chances and the influence he has on the game.”