Edinburgh Capitals will face off against Dundee Stars in Tayside tonight in the first of three games in as many days for the ice hockey club and player-coach Richard Hartmann insists it will be tough on his small roster of players.
Capitals travel to play Braehead Clan tomorrow, before returning home on Sunday evening for their first game of the season against four-times Elite League champions Coventry Blaze.
Hartmann said: “All three games will be tough for us. We’re short benched but we will continue with the three lines. We’ve been working hard in training all week, and I’ve tried to think of everything to ensure we’ll be ready for them.”
Tonight’s game with the Stars gives the Edinburgh men an immediate chance to bounce back against a team which outplayed them in all departments last Sunday at Murrayfield winning 6-0. Reflecting on that match Hartmann said: “I was very disappointed with the performance and the effort. From myself right through to everyone on the team, we were very bad and didn’t deserve to win.”
Braehead Clan are currently in sixth spot in the Elite league, one place above the Capitals in seventh, Dundee sit in ninth place, with Coventry, one of the more fancied Elite league sides, occupying fourth. With the season now entering its third month, the league table is beginning to take shape and the Capitals’ coach understands the importance of Edinburgh winning games against their closest rivals.
Hartmann said: “We have to play hard every game and try to win every game, but we don’t have the depth the top four or five teams have, so for us it’s really important to win against those teams that are at our level, and to take as much as possible from the top four teams.”
Blaze will be without former Edinburgh Capitals fans’ favourite Owen Fussey for their visit on Sunday (6pm). The popular Canadian, who scored 35 goals with the Edinburgh outfit two seasons ago, suffered a recent injury ruling him out for up to six weeks. Blaze coach Paul Thomson moved quickly to rectify this with the signing of Czech forward Frantisek Bakrlik, who was released by Hull Stingrays earlier this week.
On the prospects of Edinburgh adding to their squad in the immediate future coach Hartmann said: “Right now things are a bit quiet. We want to settle down and see how this team looks, I want to give everyone a chance this year. If something comes up and we can work out the money we will try to get him, but obviously our budget is very important.”
Capitals’ club captain Jan Safar, meanwhile, admitted tonight’s return match against Dundee could not have come soon enough.
“After that game there was a storm in the locker room. We were 4-0 down after something like ten minutes, and as a team we just gave up. There was definitely a lot of heart missing. The coach said to us, we can’t do this to our fans or to ourselves, and we all agreed it would be the first and last time it would happen.”
When on song the Capitals have impressed this year, concentrating on team defence, with a European style of play that incorporates some slick passing. A tactic which Safar believes is a must against teams such as Braehead and Coventry.
“We have to concentrate on our defence 100 per cent, wait for their mistakes and take our chances. We have to be one of the hardest working teams in the league, that is our plan for every game, try to outwork the other team.”