High-tempo Capitals can weather Storm, says coach

Player-coach Riley Emmerson, far right, is sure the Capitals will atone for their 8-1 defeat by Storm. Pic: Jan Orkisz/SMP
Player-coach Riley Emmerson, far right, is sure the Capitals will atone for their 8-1 defeat by Storm. Pic: Jan Orkisz/SMP
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EDINBURGH CAPITALS player-coach Riley Emmerson believes tomorrow’s game at Manchester Storm “is all about redemption” as his side look to put on a much better showing than last month’s 8-1 capitulation at the Elite League new boys’ Altrincham rink.

“Looking back at that game, (Craig) McCallum hadn’t arrived and some of our other players had only been in the country for two days,” said Emmerson. “Everyone has their bearings now, we’ll go there ready to play this time and I’m expecting nothing less than two points

“We had a great win last week over Braehead, and although we didn’t win in Cardiff I felt we still played well, so the mood ahead of tomorrow’s crucial battle is fantastic. It’s all about redemption for us and we’re ready for them.

“Last time in Manchester I think we worried about them too much rather than thinking about our own game and that killed us. I like us to do things at a high tempo, push the pace of play and force teams to keep up with us, rather than having the pace of the game dictated to us, and we’ve been doing more of that lately.”

Storm, more synonymous with British ice hockey’s Super League period, folded in 2002, but were resurrected in a matter of weeks this summer to replace the now defunct Hull Stingrays, and blew Edinburgh away in their first ever match in the Elite League. Coached by former Stingrays boss Omar Pacha, Emmerson sees plenty of similarities in the playing style of the two clubs.

The Canadian said: “Hull had a bigger ice surface, but in many respects Storm are a similar-style team. They have a lot of small, fast, skilful players and play the same way Hull did last season, thriving on turnovers. They look for you to make mistakes and have the firepower to put the puck in the net.”

Edinburgh, who have won two of their last three games, have no injury worries ahead of the weekend double-header – Storm visit Murrayfield on Sunday – and welcome back David Rutherford, the feisty forward having now served his two-game ban picked up in last month’s 5-2 derby loss at Fife Flyers. Emmerson believes it wont be long until Caps fans see the best of the former Central Hockey League All-Star.

He said: “It’s huge to have David’s energy and experience back. He’s not even started heating up yet, we’ve brought him over to be a big points scorer for us like Ryan Hayes is this year. He’s the sort of guy that can produce goals or assists out of nowhere. Yes, he plays with some chippy-ness, he plays with his heart on his sleeve, and wants to get under the skin of his opponents, he’s a great player and when he gets going he scores in bunches.

“I’d like to see him take a little more time, which our big ice gives him. He has the skill in his hands to hold on to the puck for us and he’s only going to get better and better this year.”

Under Emmerson, Edinburgh are still a work in progress, but their end-to-end 100mph hockey is starting to turn a few heads, and the rookie coach is pleased with how his team is shaping up for the long season ahead, and also praised the improvement of his local players.

Emmerson said: “It all starts in practice for us. For example Jacob Johnston trains our ‘D’ and you can see how good that is for the likes of Jay King, Tyler Plews and James Wallace, and up front Jordan Steel has impressed me this year. He’s a character, I spoke to him and told him he needs to be more professional and he’s come in with a new mentality both in training and matches, and that’s been great for us.”