Recent Edinburgh Capitals signing R Jay Berra admits losing influential defenceman Kyle Bigos to a season-ending knee injury is a huge blow ahead of the club’s home-and-away double header with Coventry Blaze this weekend.
Caps travel to the West Midlands tomorrow before returning to host the Blaze at Murrayfield on Sunday (face off 5.30pm) and will do so without Bigos after the big American left last week’s 5-4 penalty shot defeat to Fife Flyers midway through the second period of a pulsating Forth derby.
Berra, who scored his first Caps goal in what was Edinburgh 14th straight defeat, was signed last month from National Ice Hockey League side Blackburn Hawks after injuries prematurely ended the season of Edinburgh’s Brandon Coccimiglio and player-coach Riley Emmerson. He said: “Kyle is a really effective defenceman. He’s a big strong guy, who sees the ice well and every time you lose someone like that it’s going to be a big blow.
“We were all disappointed with the end result (against Fife). It’s never easy to lose in a shoot-out and we all thought we deserved more. Ever since I’ve been here we’ve been in every single game and we’ve put in so much effort, but just haven’t managed to get over the line.
“That’s a good Fife team, though, who have a really great chance of winning the Gardiner Conference. We played a good game against them so we’re all remaining positive going into tomorrow’s game at Coventry.”
Berra, a Canadian forward who holds an Italian passport, played college hockey in America for four years before joining Blackburn, who play in the third tier of UK hockey where he posted 67 points in just 25 games to lie second in the NIHL scoring charts. The 25-year old admits the Blackburn move was a means to getting his foot in the door as he looked for interest from an Elite League club.
Berra added: “My agent was speaking to (Edinburgh Capitals co-owner) Scott Neil. They had a couple of injuries up here so I was able to come in and support them and I was happy about that.
“I have an Italian passport and my original plan after college was to play in Italy this season but, when we couldn’t find anything, my agent suggested I play in Blackburn, get myself into the UK and wait for an opportunity in the Elite League to see if it was somewhere I could fit into and enjoying playing in. There are a lot of good players who play here to a very high level. Every game is a real challenge and I’m enjoying both my hockey and the city of Edinburgh. I actually had the chance to travel up here earlier in the year for a weekend visit when I was with Blackburn and I loved it. I was looking to come back again anyway, so to get this opportunity has been great. I love it here.”