Ice Hockey: Scott Neil calls for extra push

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As Edinburgh Capitals travel south for tonight’s key match-up with fellow play-off hopefuls Hull Stingrays, club co-owner Scott Neil urged fans to continue to get behind his side as their season-long chase to secure a first play-off outing in three years reaches fever-pitch.

Caps are three league points outside the play-off picture, with Stingrays a further three adrift but with games in hand and an excited Neil said: “There is no doubt that Hull will make it extremely difficult for us. It’s a big game for both clubs; both will be going for the win.

“Hull at home are a strong side, they played Fife there on Saturday night and won fairly comfortably.

“Our end of season run-in includes a good mixture of games, both against local rivals and a home clash with Nottingham Panthers, who could 
well be this season’s league champions.

“The atmosphere at Murrayfield has been fantastic on a number of occasions. The noise on Sunday when Brent Patry scored to equalise against Sheffield and get us what could prove to be a very valuable point, being a prime example. It would be great to hear more of that over the coming weeks.”

Neil has been pleased with the club’s progress, both on and off the ice, since the financial problems of two years ago which almost saw the team go to the wall, and he was full of praise for player-coach Richard Hartmann.

He said: “We’ve come through a difficult time, of that there is no doubt but on many fronts this year we’ve delivered what we set out to do.

“Richard’s done a very good job of working with what we could provide, and the overall competitiveness of the team is much improved.

“We have a great team spirit, the guys work hard for one another, and when results don’t go our way it’s not for lack of effort.

“The reality is we’re up against some big-budget teams and I think Richard and the guys have done an excellent job in challenging them in the way that they have.

“In terms of the play-offs we are where we are and there’s no getting away from that, but the whole league has improved from top to bottom, and we’re in a much better place than we were two years ago.

“However this year pans out, with the continued support of the fans, the plan is to take it a step further next season”

For tonight’s clash, Hartmann, who has been nursing a back injury, will make a late decision whether he is fit enough to play, but young Scottish defenceman Fraser Goldie will be out for the remainder of the season due to work commitments abroad.

Speaking of Goldie, Neil said: “He’s only 20-years-old, and no doubt has developed this 
season. It takes players a number of years to reach their full potential – he definitely has the raw talent to succeed at this level and he’s been an asset to the club.”