Player-coach Richard Hartmann hit out at the “cheap hockey” tactics of Sheffield Steelers despite Edinburgh Capitals securing a valuable point in their bid to reach the Elite League ice hockey play-offs.
An equalising goal by Brent Patry with 15 seconds remaining took last night’s clash at Murrayfield into overtime and, while proud of his players’ battling spirit as they eventually succumbed 3-2, Hartmann said: “Hockey is a physical game, if you play physical I’m happy with that, but that’s not the same as playing dirty, or cheap hockey, that’s not the way this league should be going.
“People say we are not a physical side, or that we play a European style; we don’t mind the physical stuff but if a player goes out of his way to hurt someone – that’s different.
“You can be physical, you can finish your checks, but keep your hands down, some players, when a game gets physical, they get frustrated and try to hurt someone, and that just shouldn’t happen.”
Hartmann was pleased with how his team responded after Saturday’s poor showing in a 5-0 defeat to Belfast Giants in Northern Ireland and added: “After the disappointment of Saturday, we rebounded well, all credit to the boys, they battled right to the end.
“We skated better, played hard and finished our checks. There was something missing on Saturday, we lacked sharpness, couldn’t get going and we weren’t moving well.
“The most important thing for us is to beat the teams around us in the league, but this could be a big point and help us make the play-offs, we’re obviously still in there fighting, and rest assured we will do everything we can right till the end.”
In a game of relatively few chances, Steelers opened the scoring nine minutes in, a power-play goal from Simon Ferguson, after Caps goalie, Tomas Hiadlovsky, couldn’t hold an effort from Steelers top points scorer Jeff Legue.
Edinburgh’s equaliser at 23.28 came somewhat out of the blue. Jordan Steel and Rene Jarolin combined to set up Curtis Leinweber in front of goal, who, with some fancy stick-work, managed to beat Sheffield goalie John DeCaro.
Tempers flared at the end of the second period after referee Rob Cowan missed a slash on Edinburgh’s Michal Benadik from Steelers’ tough guy, Chris Frank. The resulting fracas gave Edinburgh a two-minute five-on-three power-play advantage, but the Steelers defence, which restricted the home side to only 18 shots on goal throughout, stood firm.
Sheffield went back in front with six minutes remaining, through GB star Jonathan Phillips, and looked to be in control when Capitals’ Marcis Zembergs was sent to the penalty box for tripping at 57.25.
Edinburgh killed the penalty, won a face-off in the Steelers zone, and with 20 seconds remaining replaced Hiadlovsky with an extra forward. The gamble paid off, Patry rifling a slap-shot through a throng of bodies from just inside the blue line, which beat DeCaro all ends up and secured overtime and a point for Caps.
Canadian Patry said: “Initially I was looking to pass it, but I noticed (Michal) Dobron had two guys on him so I had to shoot. I knew I had to get the shot high as there were a lot of sticks in front of me, it got right through and over the goalie’s glove.”
Sheffield secured the extra point in the 64th minute.
Edinburgh man-of-the-match Jade Portwood lost his stick after diving to block a shot, and Steelers moved the puck well with Canadian forward Tyler Michel eventually firing a shot high over Hiadlovsky’s outstretched arm.
The weekend results see Edinburgh remain in ninth-place, three points outside the final play-off spot currently held by Fife Flyers who last night won 5-1 in Kirkcaldy over bottom club Hull Stingrays.