Edinburgh Capitals will be without Callum Boyd and Lukas Bohunicky for both Elite League fixtures this weekend.
Boyd has been given time off to compete in the first stage of the Red Bull Crashed Ice Tour in Minnesota, USA, an extreme downhill skating event where competitors battle it out on tracks featuring steep turns and high vertical drops.
The 21-year-old qualified for the competition a year ago by winning the Scottish heat held at Murrayfield. Bohunicky, meanwhile, has flown home to Slovakia for personal reasons but is expected to return to the club next week.
Caps travel to top-of-the-table Braehead Clan tomorrow, before returning home to face Hull Stingrays on Sunday. Player-coach Richard Hartmann is keen to see if his team can build on their much-improved performance last time out, albeit in defeat to Belfast Giants, after what he described as a “perfect” week in training.
Hartmann admitted he would have to make changes to his line-up, but revealed top-scorer Rene Jarolin could make a return after missing four of the last five games with an upper body injury. “We have a couple of players missing for various reasons,” said Hartmann, “but Rene Jarolin returned to training this week. I’ll have to make some changes to the lines, but I’ll wait until tonight before making my decision.
“We played so much better against Belfast than we have in I don’t know how many weeks. We really lost our way over the last month and couldn’t find a way to win, but the boys seem a lot happier and have taken confidence from that performance. It reminded them that they have the talent and passion to compete with any team in the league, they have that look back in their eyes, and we’ve had some perfect practices.
“I’m always saying to them, if we give it our best and play with passion, even if we lose we can say ‘oh well, it just wasn’t meant to be today’ and we can move on and still take positives, of which there were many after Sunday’s game.”
Edinburgh have now failed to win in ten games and in that time have picked up only three league points. Tomorrow, Caps return to Braehead Arena, the scene of their last victory more than a month ago. Since then, though, Edinburgh have since lost to Clan 5-0 on home ice.
Despite Braehead crashing out of the Challenge Cup this week after losing their quarter-final tie with Coventry Blaze, Hartmann believes Clan deserve their place at the top of the Elite League.
He said: “We always take things game-by-game, but we need to play hard against Braehead. They’re in the groove right now and are playing unbelievable hockey and that’s why they’re at the top of the league. But we’ve won there before and regardless of how well they’re doing I can see it in the boys’ faces that we’re ready to change our run of bad results.”
Sunday’s opponents Hull, who many thought would struggle this season after their first year player-coach Omar Pacha signed a squad with the youngest average age in the league, sit one place above Edinburgh in the table, three points ahead with as many games in hand.
Hartmann said: “Hull are a team everybody hates to play against because they are small and fast. They have surprised me a little, but that’s what makes hockey great. You never now before the season starts what teams are going to do well and what teams will struggle. Although nothing’s even close to being finished yet, Sunday is a huge game for us.”