Ice Hockey: Hartmann relishes Cardiff double-header

EDINBURGH CAPITALS return to Elite League ice hockey action this weekend with a home and away double header against the Cardiff Devils and player-coach Richard Hartmann is delighted to have a full squad at his disposal.

The sides face-off in Wales tomorrow before returning to Edinburgh on Sunday for round two at Murrayfield (face-off 6pm). Hartmann believes his side, winless in their last seven games, can pick up some league points over the two games.

He said: “Everyone’s been practising pretty well this week, we’ve been getting ready to play on the small rink at Cardiff and amongst other things working on our power-play, we’ve all been working hard and we’re ready to pick up some points.”

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Hartmann’s side will be well rested following an unexpected week off after last Sunday’s home match with the Nottingham Panthers was called off after heavy snow made it impossible for Panthers to travel. Capitals’ management made the decision to host an impromptu skills competition and also announced at the rink the contract extension of current star forward Rene Jarolin for the 2012-2013 season.

Hartmann said: “The game being called off was disappointing as we’d spent all week working hard and everyone was really pumped and ready to face Nottingham. We ended up having a kind of Edinburgh All Star game, we all tried to make some plays to make our fans happy. Sunday night ended up with the perfect atmosphere, I just want to say a big thank you to the fans that came and I hope they enjoyed it.”

On Jarolin’s extended deal, he continued: “It was always my main priority to sign Rene for next year. I’m really happy we finally did that, he’s a great player and I’ve really enjoyed playing with him, and as the team coach I’m delighted with the news.”

Cardiff Devils have been unlucky with injuries this year, and will be minus Maxim Bribraer, who is out for the season with a neck injury, and long-serving power forward Brad Voth, who last week announced his retirement from professional ice hockey on medical advice after nerve pain resulting from an injury picked up in December last year.

The two sides have met three times this season, and Edinburgh have failed to beat their Welsh opponents. Capitals lost 3-2 in Cardiff in their one and only previous visit to the Principality, and lost out 2-1 to a final second overtime goal the last time the sides met at Murrayfield in January.

Cardiff currently sit fifth in the Elite League, on 50 points, 25 more than the Murrayfield men whose loss of form has seen them drop to eighth. Caps are now involved in a four-way battle to secure a top-eight finish and an end-of-season play-off berth.

Local rivals Dundee Stars and Fife Flyers are both on 19 points, with Hull Stingrays in seventh spot, one point ahead of Edinburgh on 26 points.