Ice Hockey: Capitals lose out at death

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Edinburgh Capitals player-coach Richard Hartmann blames himself for last night’s 3-2 defeat away to Coventry Blaze, believing his “big 
mistake” cost his side at least a point in their battle to achieve a play-off place in ice hockey’s Elite league.

With the game tied at two apiece, and only three-and-a-half minutes remaining, Hartmann was stripped of the puck by Blaze forward Dustin Cameron, who scored the winning goal and halted Edinburgh’s four-game winning streak.

An upset Hartmann said: “The guys played well for the whole 60 minutes, we were fighting for a point and perhaps could have had two. Only an individual mistake from me cost us. The mistake was a big one and it shouldn’t happen.

“We had control of the puck, I tried to make a pass and the puck just slipped off my stick and they scored the winning goal. The blame is squarely on my shoulders.”

Edinburgh, buoyed by Saturday’s comprehensive 8-2 
victory over Dundee Stars at Murrayfield, shrugged off an early set-back when Mike Bayrack opened the scoring for the home side less than two minutes in. The ex-Braehead Clan and Belfast Giants forward was allowed far too much space to skate past the blue line and rifle a wrist shot past Tomas 
Hiadlovsky in the Capitals net.

In a lively opening, there were chances at both ends before Capitals’ hard-nosed forward Jade Portwood did well to plant himself in front of Blaze net-minder Peter Hirsch and score on the power-play after good build up play from Rene Jarolin and Curtis Leinweber at 7.29.

Edinburgh enjoyed their best spells of pressure in the opening period and took the lead in the 15th minute with a second power-play goal. Leinweber, 
after receiving a Hartmann pass, spun and fired a backhand finish high past Hirsch.

In Canadian brothers, Brad and Greg Leeb, Coventry has two of the most skilled and experienced players in the league. Former NHL player, Greg showed his class in the 24th minute, picking up the puck on the boards, before cutting inside and unleashing an unstoppable shot past Hiadlovsky.

With the home team 
coming more into the game, Edinburgh’s task was made even tougher when leading goal scorer Jarolin failed to ice in the third period, picking up an injury when killing one of nine power-play opportunities given to the home team by match referee Tom Darnell.

Without Jarolin, Edinburgh’s attacking options were visibly stunted, and prior to Hartmann’s error, which led to Cameron’s game-winning-goal at 56.22, Coventry had looked the more likely to grab the winner.

Capitals forward Leinweber, who won man-of-the-match for the visitors, believed his side were unlucky not to take something from the game, and is already looking forward to the return fixture when Edinburgh next take to the ice, entertaining Coventry at Murrayfield on Saturday.

He said: “It was just an 
unlucky bounce for their last goal, it could have happened to anyone. The guys played great and we just need to carry that forward onto Saturday’s game at home.

“We played a good road game, especially considering the travel time. We’ve shown tonight that we can play well enough to stick with these guys and we’ll be looking to give them a tough time in Edinburgh.

“We started out pretty good; we got a couple of goals after they scored on us early. They kept coming, but we still had chances. They definitely picked up their game as the match went on and we just need to be aware of that and make sure we counter it next time.”

The weekend’s results, have only added to the play-off log-jam, which see’s all four Scottish teams in the UK-wide league tied on 38 points in the bottom half on the ten-strong table, with Hull Stingrays, propping up the rest, five adrift on 33. Every team in the league has at least one game in hand over the Caps and last night’s defeat may prove costly as Edinburgh bid to reach their first post-season in three years.