Ice Hockey: Capitals carry momentum to find antidote to losing run

Edinburgh CAPITALS ended a seven-game losing streak as two late, empty-net goals sealed a 4-1 victory over arch rivals Fife Flyers in Kirkcaldy last night.

Player-coach Richard Hartmann believes that despite losing 5-4 to Flyers when the sides clashed at Murrayfield on Hogmanay, the momentum gained from a third period fightback in that match played a key role in last night’s Elite League win.

A jubilant Hartmann said: “It’s an awesome feeling to beat Fife in their rink, and send our fans home happy.

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“In our match against them in Edinburgh, the whole team played well in the third period, and I said to the guys before this game, if we start with that same mentality then we will be fine, we did that, and we’re all happy with the result.”

The travelling fans will have been pleased to note how well Capitals performed without the puck, Fife struggled in possession and were given no space by the Edinburgh forwards to play out of defence, resulting in turnovers and scoring opportunities for Capitals.

Hartmann continued: “It’s always important to play hard in the neutral zone, that’s how you’ve got to play hockey, if there is a chance to create something we have to try and force it. We play to a system, and without giving away any secrets, if we play our system well we create opportunities and a lot of turnovers, and that’s what happened.”

A welcome return for young Scottish defenceman Frazer Goldie, whose playing opportunities are limited due to work commitments, allowed Hartmann, who in recent games has been covering for injuries as a make-shift defenceman, a chance to play in his favoured forward position, and the veteran Slovakian, along with countryman Rene Jarolin, played a part in all four goals.

Jarolin, leading goal scorer in the Elite League, bagged a brace, to take his season’s tally to 30 and, with Hartmann acting as translator, said: “It’s great. I’m really enjoying my hockey, and time in Edinburgh.” On the reasons behind his goalscoring prowess, Jarolin gave a two word answer that needed no translation: line mate, Richard Hartmann. Jarolin did expand on his answer, however the modest Hatrmann refused to translate the praise, saying instead: “Rene’s settled in really well, he’s made a lot of friends including Hearts keeper Marian Kello. We’re working on bringing his family over which will make him feel even more at home.”

Flyers opened the scoring in the 18th minute when Goldie was stripped of the puck by Jamie Wilson resulting in a two-man rush on Capitals goalie Nathan Craze, and Wilson dropped a pass to Danny Stewart who gave the Welshman no chance with the finish.

In the second period the visitors kept Flyers on the back foot, equalizing on the power-play after Hartmann had teed up Jan Safar to fire in a slap-shot that was tipped in by Jarolin. Capitals took the lead in the 38th minute, Jarolin turning provider and combining with Czech forward Jiri Hanzal for Hartmann, with his back to goal, to turn sharply and score from a tight angle past Flyers net-minder Garrett Zemlak.

Capitals were always susceptible to an equalizer and Craze had to be at his best midway through the third period performing a double save to deny Flyers forward Steve Gunn.

In the final minute, with his last roll of the dice, Fife player-coach Todd Dutiaume pulled Zemlak for an extra skater, and Capitals were able to add some gloss to the score line of a deserved but hard fought victory with empty-net goals from Hanzal and Jarolin.