Ice Hockey: Capitals coach speaks from Hart after error

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Edinburgh CAPITALS’ run of poor results continued at Murrayfield last night after they conceded a last-second goal to lose 2-1 in overtime against Cardiff Devils.

Player/coach Richard Hartmann said he found it “hard to speak” after his error lead to Devils’ American forward Scott Matzka scoring the winning goal.

With seconds remaining, the experienced Slovakian seemed to have time to clear the puck, before he was robbed in possession by Jeff Pierce who fed Matzka to score from close range past Nathan Craze in the Capitals’ net with only one tenth of a second remaining.

Hartmann said: “I’m actually finding it hard to speak because we lost the game and it was probably my fault. I couldn’t get the puck under control and I lost it and they scored.”

The Edinburgh side picked up a much-needed Elite League point when the match finished 1-1 after the regulation 60 minutes, but with his side leading 1-0 for the majority of the game, that was of no consolation to Hartmann. “I’m disappointed. We lost a point rather than gaining a point. We played our game perfectly and restricted their quality chances, we made one or two mistakes and they scored,” he continued.

“We had good scoring chances but didn’t take them. That’s where you see the difference in the quality between us and the top four teams.”

Edinburgh started the brighter of the two sides, and deservedly took the lead in the ninth minute – Peter Holecko, who had a pre-season trial with the Devils last summer, did well to keep possession in the Cardiff zone with some smart stick work, allowing Bari Mckenzie to square the puck to Latvian forward Marcis Zembergs, who was left unmarked to score his 14th goal of the season.

In a game where quality chances were at a premium, and despite being outshot 28-20, it was the Capitals who created the best of them. Hartmann was denied a certain goal when, with Devils net-minder Stevie Lyle out of position, his net-bound shot was blocked on the line by Devils defenceman Kenton Smith, and Lyle had to be on top form in the second period to deny Capitals’ new signing Iain Bowie a goal after he had been put clean through from a Holecko pass.

Cardiff, to the delight of their large travelling support, equalised in the 52nd minute after a shot from Pierce that should have been a comfortable save for Capitals’ netminder Craze but he was caught out at his near post.

The goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the home side and prior to the last-gasp winner the five-minute overtime period was completely dominated by the Devils. The short-benched Edinburgh side looked out on their feet.

Welshman Craze was awarded man of the match for his performance between the pipes for the home side, and like his coach was left downbeat at the result. “It’s frustrating, but at the end of the day there’s a lot of hockey left to be played this season, we can’t afford to dwell on it too much.

“We’ll have a good week in training, and prepare for two difficult games against Belfast and Hull, and hopefully get some results,” he said.

Last night’s loss rounded off a disappointing weekend for the Murrayfield side. On Saturday they lost 3-0 on the road to Hull Stingrays. Player-coach Sylvain Cloutier, Martin Ondrej and Jereme Tendeler were on target for the East Yorkshire outfit.

Despite the loss, and the fact the Capitals have failed to win ten of their last 11 games, they remain seventh in the Elite League, three points ahead of Hull who occupy the final play-off spot.