Ice Hockey: New optimism fires Edinburgh side

Fans of numerical symmetry in sport need look no further than Edinburgh Capitals’ terrific midweek road win over league leaders Nottingham Panthers.

In the only Elite League ice hockey fixture scheduled for 12/12/12, short-benched Capitals, missing five first-team regulars through illness and work commitments, travelled with only 12 skaters, the result 1-2. Nottingham did have a goal washed off by match referee Andy Carson, the only official in the league to wear the number 12 on his back.

For Capitals skipper Martin Cingel, the result had nothing to do with destiny, and was down to great team play and hard work, a mentality he believes must continue when the Caps’ quest for an end-of-season play-off spot resumes on Sunday with a home fixture against Braehead Clan (face-off 6pm). He said: “It’s a fantastic feeling to beat Nottingham, especially in their own back yard. Not too many teams have done it. The boys battled hard, we were short and only had 12 skaters, and everyone from the goalie down deserves a lot of credit.”

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“In the first 15 minutes the Panthers were everywhere and Tomas (Hiadlovsky) made some good saves, but we handled the pressure well. We talked about keeping their chances to the outside and hitting them on the counter attack which we did pretty well. In the second and third periods we were the better team and deserved the two points.”

“We’ve played well over the last few weeks and have put together some good results; other teams are looking at us and realising that we have been successful, so we have to prepare for that, starting on Sunday.”

“Braehead will be a tough game for us. They have a couple of really good players on their team, so we will see what they come up with, but we have to just worry about ourselves and keep this going.

“The spirit in the changing room is great and we’re playing with confidence. Our goal is to make the play-offs, we’re not far behind and there is still a long way to go.”

Wednesday’s win over Nottingham, their first in the National Ice Centre since 2007, coupled with last weekend’s equally impressive victory, also away from home, against Sheffield Steelers has moved bottom-of-the-table Edinburgh to within a point of Hull Stingrays and Fife Flyers – and injected some optimism and belief into the Murrayfield outfit.

For Cingel, the November additions of Canadian duo Brent Patry and Curtis Leinweber have been key to the club’s upturn in fortune, and have vastly improved a team that was on the receiving end of a 10-0 Panthers mauling a little over six weeks ago.

He said: “Brent and Curtis have made a big difference. We were not a bad team but sometimes you need all the pieces in place to get the machine working properly. Both of them have come over here and fitted in with the boys instantly. You can see that on the ice with the improvement in our performances.”

Braehead’s Sunday visit begins a run of six fixtures against Gardiner Conference opposition, the centrepiece of which is a home clash on Hogmanay with oldest rivals Fife Flyers.