Ice Hockey: Devils make the most of Capitals’ lack of bite

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A SLUGGISH start and a toothless performance on the power-play ensured Edinburgh Capitals’ miserable run of form continued last night after a 3-2 home loss against the Cardiff Devils consigned the Murrayfield ice hockey combine to their ninth straight defeat.

Assistant coach Jock Hay admitted that the result was “hard to take” and that his side’s inability to focus for a full 60 minutes was costing games.

A disappointed Hay said: “We started slow, we were a couple of steps off the pace, and you could see we were going to be in trouble, that’s how it turned out as we went two goals down in the first ten minutes.

“For the rest of the game we played great, and were probably the better team. It’s hard to take, because especially at home it’s always a five or ten minute spell that costs us the game. Whether it be at the start or the end of a game, we seem to switch off and it’s hard to come back from.”

Edinburgh played well for large periods of an entertaining encounter, but a combination of individual defensive errors, and a failure to score on their seven power-play opportunities, including two occasions where they enjoyed a two-man advantage, meant the Welsh outfit never relinquished a lead they held from as early as the third minute.

Hay continued: “We’re giving goals away, and it’s become a regular occurrence. A bad piece of play or a bad decision leads to the puck being turned over, or a breakaway, and it always seems to cost us. We’ve got to try and get rid of these mental errors. We need to be fully focused for 60 minutes and that’s what we’ll be working on in training this week.

“On the power-play, we were sometimes over-passing the puck. Cardiff are a good team at hustling you, they’re on top of you right away, so you’ve not got a lot of time to make the pass. We should have just fired more shots on net, created a screen in front of the goalie and looked for rebounds. We should have done that, as opposed to just passing the puck about.”

Cardiff’s early lead resulted from Capitals’ captain Jan Safar attempting to glove down a high puck only to have it intercepted by Ben Davies, who fed American Jeff Pierce for a simple finish.

Capital’s bad start was compounded in the eighth minute when a Chris Frank slap-shot was partially blocked but the puck looped high over everybody and seemed to stay in the air an age before landing just inside the right-hand post of Capitals’ net-minder Nathan Craze.

Edinburgh then began to come into the game and had failed to capitalise on a five-on-three power-play before Elite League leading scorer Rene Jarolin pulled a goal back with his 38th strike of the season, pulling a smart move on Devils goalie Stevie Lyle after being put through by a pass from player/coach Richard Hartmann at 19.11.

The two sides completed the scoring in the second period, Devils’ defenceman Jamie Vanderveeken trading goals with Capitals forward Marcis Zembergs, the young Latvian was alert and on hand to finish well after good work from Peter Holecko and Bari McKenzie.

Capitals continued to push for an equaliser, but despite having plenty of possession could only muster five shots on goal in the game’s third period, Cardiff looked very dangerous on the break and Edinburgh had Craze to thank for some fine stops which kept them in the game.

After the weekend’s results, Edinburgh remain in eighth place in the league table, five points ahead of Dundee Stars, who they face this Saturday at Murrayfield in what promises to be a crunch game in the race to secure a play-off spot.

On the end of season run-in, Hay said: “All our games are massive now. We’ve got to start putting points up on the board. It’s going to be really close between the bottom four teams.”