EIHL: Dark December for struggling Edinburgh Capitals

Edinburgh Capitals netminder Pavel Shegalo in debate with the match officials in a 6-2 defeat at the hands of Fife Flyers (Pic: Steve Gunn)
Edinburgh Capitals netminder Pavel Shegalo in debate with the match officials in a 6-2 defeat at the hands of Fife Flyers (Pic: Steve Gunn)

December has barely opened its calendar and Edinburgh Capitals’ season is almost beyond saving.

The club is marooned at the bottom of the Elite League, and it is hard to see how anyone can turn things round.

Action from the, Braehead Clan v Nottingham Panthers (Pic: Al Goold)

Action from the, Braehead Clan v Nottingham Panthers (Pic: Al Goold)

The weekend saw them compete with Fife Flyers in a derby double header, only to come up significantly short as all four points eluded them.

Dmitri Khristich’s Russian-led team mustered just three goals across the two games, while shipping eleven. Those stats simply added another nail into the floorboards for a team in desperate need of direction on and off the ice.

The rumour mill has a new investor waiting in the wings after an application by HMRC to wind up Capitals Hockey Limited was approved at the High Court of Justice in Northern Ireland.

The club’s promise of a statement explaining the road ahead has yet to materialise, and there’s a sense of frustration among the fans. That was evident in the gaps among the home crowd on Sunday.

The club will complete the season – that much is known – but how it keeps spirits high through to the end of March 2018 is one hell of a challenge.

All credit to the fans who rallied and made such a noise on a bitterly cold night.

Their support is more important than ever, but the team has to find ways of winning at home very quickly. The light is dimming, and the dream is too ...

Three wins from 21 starts is a dire record. Khristich’s side are six points adrift of second bottom Dundee Stars, and 13 behind Coventry Blaze. The log jam of traffic that then sits between them and the play-offs is considerable.

The only consolation for Caps is that both of those teams also endured miserable zero point weekends.

Blaze went down 3-1 to Braehead, and were then beaten 4-2 on home ice by Manchester Storm; results which didn’t please the local fans who expect much better from their team.

Dundee have punched above their weight and scored some big hits this season, but the inconsistency that gnaws at their heart struck again, going down 3-2 in Cardiff and 7-3 in Guildford.

Devils and newcomers Flames joined Flyers and Nottingham with a clean sweep of weekend points – Guildford are now on a five-game winning run and looking comfortable in sixth place.

Guildford’s 5-3 victory over Belfast Giants was all the more impressive considering they led 5-0 at one stage. Few teams build up that sort of lead against the Irish side.

Manchester Storm as title contenders?

The Altrincham based team set the early pace, and although it has slipped from top to fifth, it is very much part of the leading pack. Scott Pitt’s two goals cemented their win in Coventry despite being heavily outshot in the third period.

Current pacesetters, Nottingham Panthers ticked over with two solid weekend wins and now have a two-point lead over second top Belfast with four games in hand.

Corey Neilson’s side swept past rivals Sheffield Steelers 4-1 – the men in orange really aren’t getting things their own way this year – and then headed north for a 3-0 shut out in Braehead in a game that had a few tasty fights.

That result spiked Clan’s own decent run of form.

Ville Hamalainen’s empty net goal secured a 3-1 result over Coventry for their fifth straight win.

Sheffield came back off the ropes too with a thumping 6-1 win over MK Lightning. Mathieu Roy fired two powerplay goals in barely two minutes to seal the game in the third, and complete a zero point weekend for Milton Keynes who also went down 6-3 to Belfast.