Ice hockey: Edinburgh Capitals look forward to 2013 despite derby loss

THE wonderful thing about drama is how quickly it can happen and ice hockey fans hoping for some to end 2012 got what they wished for as Edinburgh Capitals were edged 3-2 in overtime by long-time rivals Fife Flyers.

Even now there will still be some debate over the legitimacy over Derek Keller’s last-second overtime winner, but it was a fitting end to a wonderful ice hockey match which had it all. Sadly one team had to lose, but the Capitals can take great heart from the last month 

December has been terrific for them and to come away with 13 points from a possible 18 perfectly reflects the resurgent form of the club. Even the 1430 attendance for this Hogmanay clash also highlighted the fact that stay away fans are being persuaded to come back.

Despite disappointment that Capitals couldn’t seal the full quota of points, defenceman Brent Patry insisted this loss is not a setback. “It’s kind of heartbreaking to lose it that way when you consider we had the puck in their zone with under ten seconds to go and they go the other way and score with half a second to go.

“We worked hard and Tomas Hiadlovsky was magnificent again, but we have to take the positives of the last six weeks or so and move on. I wouldn’t say it’s a setback because we still got a point out of this game and we’ve won six out of the last nine. For a team that was bottom of the standings for most of the season, we’re still on a roll and we’ll look to take more points in the coming games.”

Capitals took the early lead on six minutes when Martin Cingel and Peter Holeko combined before the latter swiped his angled shot past static Flyers keeper Bryan Pitton, beating him at his near post for a power-play goal.

The home side were soon down a man when Michal Dobron was given a five+game misconduct penalty for his crude boarding of Danny Stewart, lighting the blue touch paper on this feisty affair. But the raft of penalties that ensued were expertly dealt with by the Caps, who remained resolute and tough to beat in the face of fairly intense Flyers pressure as they ended the first period a goal up.

The Kirkcaldy side were much improved in the second spell and their equaliser was wonderfully executed as Hiadlovsky was finally beaten in Edinburgh’s goal as player-coach Todd Dutiaume’s pass found Bobby Chaumont with his back to goal and the Flyers’ forward swivelled and fizzed his shot into the net to draw his team level.

There was concern over Hiadlovsky minutes later when Neil Hay barged Zach Carriveau into the Caps netminder and it took a few minutes to give him the treatment he needed before was given the go ahead to continue. He was certainly back to his best as he denied Jeff Caister and Stewart shortly after.

Up the other end, Edinburgh went back in front early in the third when Rene Jarolin’s blue line shot fell for Curtis Leinweber, who duly tucked it past Pitton on the power-play. The lead didn’t last long however as Caister’s slapshot halfway inside the Caps left Hiadlovsky well beaten as the Flyers regained parity.

Nothing could separate these two teams who gave so much to this entertaining contest and as the match cruised into overtime, both sides dug deep as they tried to force an opening to get the decisive winner and when it came, it came as late as it could.

Edinburgh lost possession of the puck in the Fife zone and they quickly turned it around as Chaumont rampaged up the inside right and squared for Derek Keller, who sent his one-timer shot flying past Hiadlovsky to clinch two points for the visitors, to the delight of the away support.

However, the final weekend of 2012 yielded three points from a possible four for Edinburgh Capitals as they begin the New Year three points clear of Elite League bottom club Hull Stingrays, but player-coach Richard Hartmann was unhappy at not getting all four.

He said: “I always want maximum points, so from that point of view, I’m not pleased. We won on Saturday and that’s forgotten about as we have to move on so to lose in the last second to Fife in our home rink shouldn’t be happening.”