Kyle Flemington insists that the departure of import Joe Grimaldi from Edinburgh Capitals won’t derail the rest of the season.
American Grimaldi was sacked by Caps officials last weekend for spearing and then throwing his helmet in the face of Nottingham Panthers’ Max Parent before fighting him. Despite being axed, Caps are restricted to icing 11 imports until Grimaldi serves his yet-to-be imposed lengthy ban.
Capitals’ next attempt at breaking their winless streak comes tomorrow at home against Dundee Stars and Flemington has no doubt that the Caps squad won’t let recent issues get in the way of their performances.
“This is when we’ll show our true colours,” said Flemington. “With the incident that happened in Nottingham, we’re likely to be an import short for a while. It’s definitely crunch time. We talk about it daily in the locker room. We can’t use what happened as an excuse, instead we need to use it as motivation, we need to do this, and if we need to do it a man down then so be it.
“These last couple of weeks have been tough. We need to remember what we did well to win games and try to get back to that. We can’t afford to run-and-gun with teams. We need to play a puck possession game and keep the opposition’s scoring chances to the outside.”
During Edinburgh’s poor run, two games stick out for 22-year-old Canadian Flemington – last month’s 5-4 penalty shot loss to Dundee and their 2-0 defeat against Fife Flyers on Hogmanay. With Edinburgh due to travel to Kirkcaldy on Sunday, this weekend gives the Murrayfield men a crack at re-dressing the balance with two of their fiercest rivals.
Flemington said: “Coming into that last Dundee game we were pretty confident because we had been on a good run and had been playing well. We were up two goals going into the final period but didn’t close it out; we’re looking for some retribution. We don’t like losing, especially to those guys.
“Hogmanay was a game we really wanted, but we underperformed and let our fans down. So, if we go into Fife, which is a tough place to play, and steal the two points, we’ll hopefully give them a belated Happy New Year.”
Caps may have struggled of late, but over the course of the season Flemington has been a success story since his arrival from Canada at the start of the season, visibly growing in confidence from week to week. Back home it perhaps comes as no surprise that, at 6ft 7in, he was used as an enforcer, but much like fellow tough-guy and team-mate Reily Emmerson, who he cites as one of the main reasons behind his development, has revelled in his increased responsibility this side of the pond. “Not in a million years did I think I would be playing in the top league in the UK with some great team-mates against quality opposition and I’m very grateful for that,” added Flemington. “Back in North America I was pegged as just a tough guy, a fighter. Coming here I’ve got to play a lot of minutes and my confidence has grown a ton. I’m handling the puck a lot more and it’s good to have that confidence to make a pass.
“Riley (Emmerson) has been great for my game. We work together a lot on one-timers, fighting, or tipping in front of the net, I think we’ve been good for each other because we’re from the same background.”