EIHL: Caps floundering as cup berths are filled

Belfast Giants Steve Saviano with Cardiff Devils Andrew Hotman (Pic: Darren Kidd/Presseye)
Belfast Giants Steve Saviano with Cardiff Devils Andrew Hotman (Pic: Darren Kidd/Presseye)

Short benched and stranded at the bottom of the table - these are horrendous times for Edinburgh Capitals.

The city side opted to go down a route of a Russian led bench this season, and picked up some vastly experienced signings.

Chris Carrozzi, Guildford Flames' netminder (Pic: John Uwins)

Chris Carrozzi, Guildford Flames' netminder (Pic: John Uwins)

Hopes of them being the EIHL’s dark horses have pretty much crumbled alarmingly early in the campaign on the back of a losing streak that now spans 12 games.

A crushing 9-0 defeat in Manchester last month was bad enough, but to then go to Guildford on Saturday and fail to find the net must have been utterly dispiriting.

Flames were easy 7-0 winners as they heavily outshot Caps’ weakened bench; netminder, Chris Carrozzi, having a hassle free 19-shot shut out.

The weekend then took Caps to Wales, where they coughed another seven goals, but this time, broke the shut out, going down 7-2 to Devils.

It’s hard to see where Caps go from here. The team is worryingly lost at the bottom of the table with just two points to their name; seven adrift of second bottom, Dundee, who also have games in hand.

Re-inforcements are urgently required, and it may even be a case of abandoning the Russian route altogether, but even then their season may be beyond saving already. The light is dimming, and the dream is too.

Braehead Clan started the season with a Scottish Cup triumph which launched a ‘champions of Scotland’ top.

They have been quietly placed at the back of wardrobes since then as it has gone a bit pear-shaped with some tough defeats and poor performances from a club still building its roster. The fans’ expectations are being far from met, so far.

Their Challenge Cup qualification hopes were formally ended with a 5-1 loss to Nottingham Panthers.

They scorned an early penalty shot, and this game was done and dusted early in the third as Panthers cruised to a comfortable win.

The last of the eight knockout places were all confirmed at the weekend.

Manchester Storm missed out on the back of a 3-1 loss at the hands of Sheffield Steelers – even their game in hand won’t be much use to them – and Coventry and Edinburgh made up the quartet on the outside looking in.

A couple of final spots have yet to be tidied up, but the eight clubs through to the next stage are Sheffield Steelers, Nottingham, Belfast, Fife, Dundee, Cardiff plus league newcomers Guildford and MK Lightning.

The weekend action saw Fife Flyers enjoy a smashing four-point weekend which included a solid 5-1 win over Dundee and then a fine 4-3 road victory at Coventry – Evan Bloodoff netting the game winner in the third period.

Cardiff Devils also spiked Belfast Giants’ six game unbeaten run in impressive style, taking the points in a 3-0 road trip across the Irish Sea.

Dundee Stars enjoyed a smashing 2-0 win over Belfast Giants – Travis Fullerton taking the shut out – while MK Lightning departed Altrincham with a 5-4 victory over Manchester Storm with Francis Verreault-Paul scoring the killer OT goal.

That capped a fine weekend which also saw them win 5-4 in Coventry where Paul Philips’ overtime winner was decisive.

Braehead’s difficult start seemed to be taking another turn for the worse when Guildford came to Renfrew and built up a two-goal lead on Sunday.

Clan rallied with two quick goals before the end of the second period, and Tyler Scofield’s powerplay strike in the third was good enough to secure a much needed win for John Tripp’s under-performing, worryingly inconsistent side.

They desperately need to jump-start the engine. Could this win be the spark?