NO-NONSENSE defenceman Kyle Flemington wants Edinburgh Capitals to play the puck rather than their opponents when they take on Belfast Giants tonight and tomorrow.
The sides square up on Challenge Cup business, before facing-off again tomorrow in an Elite League clash. Flemington believes it is vital the Murrayfield men don’t afford Belfast’s experienced squad too much respect.
Tonight’s hosts have already beaten Edinburgh on the opening day of the season at Murrayfield and Flemington, who savoured a rare Caps victory the last time the two sides met at Belfast’s impressive SSE Arena, said: “We know the way Belfast play, we’ve seen them already this season. They’re more of an east-west kind of team and we’re going to try and go north-south. It’s a tough building to play in, but we won there last year so we know we can do it.
“They are a very skilled team – a lot of veterans – with guys who have played in the NHL. They like to slow the game down to the way they want it, and I think we’ve got to shove that back in their face and play our game. We must respect them, but we have to be careful and not give them too much respect.”
Following the summer appointment of Riley Emmerson as player/coach, 12 new faces – including former Giants net-minder Carsen Chubak – have been brought to Murrayfield with Flemington one of only ten players to remain from outgoing player/coach Richard Hartmann’s four years in charge.
Edinburgh may have won only one of their four competitive games under the new boss, but Flemington has seen enough day-to-day improvement in the new-look Capitals to believe an exciting season is on the cards.
“Considering that we just got our last import in for the game we won against Dundee, I think we’ve come together pretty quickly. The fans and everyone can see in our last game against Braehead that the difference between that and our loss in Manchester was night and day. We’ve got a lot of skill and character and, when you get that kind of mix, only positive things can happen. I’m excited about the potential this team has. Up next is a chance of taking four points off of a big team like Belfast, and when you get that kind of opportunity you’ve got to jump at it and give it all you’ve got.”
In what is sure to be an exhausting weekend for the Caps, they complete a run of three games in three nights, with a home Challenge Cup game against old rivals Fife Flyers on Sunday (face-off 5.30pm). A fact not lost on player/coach Emmerson, however he believes the extra game in Belfast, with an overnight stay in the city, has its advantages.
Emmerson said: “Travelling on the ferry all day and then getting off to play, which is what we usually do, is tough, so I think getting a good night’s rest after tonight’s game means we’ll be fresh and ready to go for the game tomorrow and that’s a big-time advantage.
“Belfast is a great barn to play in, and then we’ve got a big rivalry game with Fife on Sunday to look forward to. We love playing against Fife, they always bring a big crowd over, and it’s going to be feisty. Even the pre-season game we had with them was chippy, and that’s only going to help build the rivalry we have.
“Over the course of the three games we’ll look at conserving energy, but we still want to go out and play our way.
“Practices have been very high-tempo this week, and we’ve been working on our special teams. We’ve got a lot of firepower in this team and our power-play needs to step up. The difference last time out against Braehead was three power-play goals, so we need to get that clicking.”