EDINBURGH Capitals slumped to their fifth straight Elite League defeat, losing 4-2 to Dundee Stars in Tayside last night, a performance assistant coach Jock Hay branded “totally unacceptable”.
It was Edinburgh’s fifth game in ten days, but Hay believes a tough Christmas schedule for his players had no bearing on the result. “Fatigue is not an issue. These guys are athletes, over the course of a season everyone else will have played as many games, so there’s no excuse there,” he said.
Victory for the Stars was their first in eight league games, and puts them six points behind Hull Stingrays who currently occupy the final play-off spot.
Dundee fully deserved the win, and although outshot by the Capitals 31-29, created far superior scoring chances throughout the contest.
Hay’s thoughts on the game were mirrored by Stars’ player-coach Brent Hughes who said: “It was an ugly victory, but at the end of the day we’ll take the two points.”
Capitals, minus defenceman Martin Petrina and Danny McIntyre, were boosted by a return to the line-up by Jozef Sladok and Tomas Valecko, but neither team could really get going in the early stages.
The game came to life after seven minutes; Marcis Zembergs was put through one-on-one with Stars net-minder Chris Whitley, and zinged a fierce wrist shot off his left-hand post.
Referee Neil Wilson had already sent Brent Hughes to the penalty box for roughing, when a further slashing call against Stars Chris Zarb gave the Murrayfield men a five on three power-play opportunity. Capitals took full advantage; a Jozef Sladok shot saved by Whitley rebounded perfectly for Edinburgh’s Sean Menton to fire home at 11.01.
Two goals inside a minute turned the game in favour of the home side and gave them a lead that would not be relinquished.
With Edinburgh player-coach Richard Hartmann in the box for hooking, a slap shot from Dundee’s GB international Lee Mitchell flew past an unsighted Nathan Craze in the Capitals goal at 15.15.
Ex-Capital Jeff Hutchins was the architect of the second goal, easily scything through the Capitals defence before centring the puck for Dan McGoff to finish neatly at 15.59.
Capitals were rocked by two Stars goals early in the second period, Craze distracted by traffic in front of his net allowed an Alan Mazur shot from distance to sneak through. And in the 27th minute, Capitals’ defensive frailties were again exposed after Dundee’s man of the match, Zarb, was allowed to skate the length of the ice before dishing the puck off to Jarrett Knonkle for an easy finish.
From that point on, Dundee looked comfortable holding their lead. A Hartmann goal, assisted by Peter Holecko and Zembergs, with six minutes left, was nothing more than a consolation for Edinburgh.
Capitals will be looking for an improved performance tonight when they take on Cardiff Devils at Murrrayfield (6.30pm). The Welsh outfit won 3-2 when the sides met in Cardiff earlier this month, and continued their run of good form with a 4-1 victory against Fife Flyers in Kirkcaldy last night.