Edinburgh Capitals rescue play off hopes

Marcis Zembergs scores for the Capitals
Marcis Zembergs scores for the Capitals
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IF you could define any group of ice hockey fans as “long-suffering”, then Edinburgh Capitals’ hardy bunch would surely be up there after another weekend involving wildly contrasting sets of emotions.

Sunday morning would have been one of helpless despair and further frustration with the club slipping into a four-game losing run after a match in Kirkcaldy the night before which is better forgotten – a 7-1 thrashing by play-off rivals Fife Flyers.

Fast forward to last night and all was well with the world again as the Capitals set about beating a recently rejuvenated Braehead Clan, with one loss in five but a team Edinburgh have beaten in the last three meetings.

Victory also reinvigorated the hope that Capitals can qualify for the play-offs. At least that’s the view of Latvian forward Marcis Zembergs, who scored one and assisted in another two in the 5-2 win over Braehead. “We’ve only got 14 games to go,” he said. “After what happened in Fife on Saturday, we needed this win and to get the two points. Games are running out for us and we need as many wins as we can to reach the play-offs.”

More of this would certainly be welcomed as the season begins its final stretch and after two early penalties to Richard Hartmann, Clan came out all guns blazing with netminder Tomas Hiadlovsky stopping Robert Farmer, Jordan Krestanovich and Matt Schepke in the early stages.

Caps soon got a foothold in the game and made a timely breakthrough with four minutes to go in the first period as coach Hartmann finished to put his team into the lead after finding himself in space near the Clan goal.

That advantage was soon doubled within a minute when Zembergs found a little area of space near the crease on the inside right and smashed his chance into the net.

Needless to say, Braehead never wilted in spite of their two-goal deficit and Steve Birnstill soon halved that in the second session when Jade Galbraith set him up on the blue line to smash past Hiadlovsky.

However, Capitals emerged after the break fired up and Peter Holecko scored almost immediately, sweeping in from close range with a one-time effort after the set-up by skipper Martin Cingel.

Then Hartmann applied a killer blow with a similar finish to put Edinburgh 4-1 up and effectively kill the game off early in the third period. Farmer’s poked finish gave Clan hope, but Jade Portwood finished the game off with an empty-net goal with 37 seconds left to play.

Even the fight that broke out between Michal Benadik and recent Clan acquisition Craig Cescon at the buzzer couldn’t dampen the Caps fans’ spirits.

It would have been a long 24 hours for them though as they were taken apart by Flyers on Saturday. It took four goals before Capitals responded with one of their own.

Doubles from Jason Pitton and Bobby Chaumont, along with solitary strikes from Zach Carriveau, Todd Dutiaume and Steven Gunn, ensured a comfortable victory over the Caps on a poor night for Hartmann’s men.

Hartmann was pleased at the turnaround of his team in such a short space of time. He said: “The game on Saturday at Fife was not a good game for us, but I’m proud of the boys for this result after we spoke in the dressing-room before the game.

“They are good hockey players and they showed their ability in a game where we really needed to win. We’d lost games in the last few minutes recently which was hard to take then Fife beat us the way we did and we didn’t expect that at all, but the guys stepped up and showed great effort when needed.”