Ice Hockey: Edinburgh Capitals unable to bridge budget gap

Edinburgh Capitals captain Martin Cingel admitted his side will find it “difficult to compete” with big budget teams from ice hockey’s Erhardt conference after Elite League leaders Nottingham Panthers skated to a comfortable 5-0 victory, in Caps’ only game of the weekend, at Murrayfield on Saturday night.

Panthers’ mix of top-quality imports, including current Carolina Hurricanes forward Anthony Stewart, and seven Team GB internationals, controlled the game from the early stages and looked by far the best side Edinburgh have faced-off against this season.

Cingel said: “We knew that Nottingham have a really strong team. You could see they have three very good lines. We’re two imports down, so it was always going to be very difficult for us.

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“We tried to focus on the 
defensive side of our game, which I thought we did well for the most part, but any time we made a mistake they punished us.”

This year the Elite League has been split into two North American-style conferences with Edinburgh playing the majority of their matches against the lower budget sides of the Gardiner conference, and have now failed to score in their last two games, both at home, against teams from the big-spending Erhardt conference.

Cingel added: “We don’t play these guys too often, and they play at a faster speed than we’re used to. We can match the teams in our own conference like Dundee and Fife, but it’s difficult to compete with teams like Nottingham, and the resources they have.”

Nottingham, who were playing the second of three games in three nights showed no 
ill-effects from a 5-1 victory away to Braehead Clan on Friday and opened the scoring in the eleventh minute through Welsh forward Mathew Myers.

Panthers played to their strengths, using their greater size to play a tough physical game, and added a second through Stephen Lee.

Nottingham continued to have the better of the chances in the second period, adding further goals by Eric Werner, Bruce Graham and Matt 

The biggest cheer of the night came when Capitals’ man of the match, Michal Dobron, dished out some of the physical play that had served Nottingham so well during the early stages, sending Francis sprawling with a big centre ice hit.

Panthers coach Corey Neilson wished to refute claims his side eased off in the second half of the game in order to conserve energy for last night’s trip to Kirkcaldy, which ended in a 5-3 Nottingham win against the Fife Flyers.

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Neilson said: “We play hard every night, we have a lot of depth and I tell them to play as hard as they can every time they go out on the ice.

“Edinburgh plays a different style to what we’re used to and always try to stretch the play. We coped with it well and when they did break they were isolated. I don’t think they managed to generate anything really.

“It was a good win but I don’t think we played particularly well. We got the job done and scored some timely goals.”

Edinburgh’s season continues tomorrow night, when they travel to Nottingham for what promises to be an extremely difficult encounter.