Ice Hockey: Defeat leaves Edinburgh side bottom of the league

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Edinburgh Capitals captain Martin Cingel vowed his team would soon be back to winning ways despite a 4-1 home loss to a strong Belfast Giants side at Murrayfield last night, in an often frantic ice hockey encounter.

The result, coupled with Edinburgh’s shock 2-1 victory away to high-flying Sheffield Steelers on Saturday, still leaves them bottom of the Elite League with 13 points, three behind fellow strugglers Hull Stingrays and Fife Flyers.

Cingel said: “I have to give full credit to the guys. We gave it everything but it just didn’t happen for us. Credit to Belfast as well – they’re a good team, played very well and punished our mistakes.”

“This was never a game where we were going to score six or seven goals, and we knew, especially after the efforts of Saturday, that it was going to take something a little bit extra to get a result. If we keep playing the way we are right now we’ll be picking up points again soon.”

“When we went 2-1 behind, the game opened up a bit as we pushed for an equaliser, and got away from our original tactics. It was end to end, and there were lots of chances created by both teams. A couple of rebounds here and there made the difference.”

The sentiments were echoed by Caps’ Willie Nicolson. The Kirkcaldy-born defender, who had scored Edinburgh’s game-winning goal in Sheffield 24 hours earlier, said: “If you’d offered me two points on Friday I would have snatched it out of your hands.

“A couple of stupid mistakes cost us, but over the two games I think we’ve played pretty well.”

Nicolson, a summer signing from Fife Flyers, had only recently returned to the line-up after being sidelined with a recurrence of the shoulder injury which has plagued him for over a year.

He continued: “Injuries are tough to battle back from, especially at this level. Last year, when I first had my shoulder injury, all it took to pop it out again was taking a pass on my backhand. There are 
some big guys out there and it can be pretty physical. All it takes is one bump and I could be out again. It’s great to be back though and I’m feeling good.”

Giants’ man-of the-match was the scorer of their decisive third goal, hard-nosed forward Darryl Lloyd. Line mate and ex-Capitals’ centre Mark Garside said: “I play a role for the team, on a line with the ‘bash brothers’ (Lloyd and Giants’ captain Adam Keefe) and we spend a lot of time shutting down the opposition’s top players. We do a job, and I’m happy to do it, especially if we keep winning.”

The Giants’ victory, followinga 4-1 loss to Fife Flyers on Saturday pushed them into second place in the standings, behind new front-runners Nottingham Panthers.

On Saturday, Belfast led 2-1 after 20 minutes with strikes by Will Colbert and Scott Champagne sandwiching a goal by Capitals’ Curtis Leinweber, who deftly flicked the puck past Giants keeper Stephen Murphy from a Michal Dobron pass.

As the home side battled hard to get back on level terms, Peter Holecko, player-coach Richard Hartmann and Brent Patry all had shots ring off the frame of the goal, before Lloyd scored after being sent clean through one-on-one with Capitals’ goalie Tomas Hiadlovsky at 41.38.

Hiadlovsky was left stranded again for Belfast’s fourth goal. After an initial Garside effort was well saved, Noah Clarke was on hand to tuck away the rebound and complete the scoring eight minutes from time.

Capitals continue their season on Wednesday evening, on the road, for what promises to be a tough match-up with on-form Nottingham Panthers.