Ice hockey: Clan beat Capitals to Gardiner Conference title

Ice hockey

Braehead Clan head coach Ryan Finnerty heaped praise on Edinburgh Capitals after landing the Gardiner Conference title.

The Clan won 6-3 at Murrayfield to take the crown from Fife Flyers on regulation time wins, despite having the same points tally.

Both sides will meet in next week's play-off quarter-finals.

"I've always believed in this group and we finally delivered on the Conference," said Finnerty.

"In a way, I'm glad it's over and now the real fight begins in the play-off with Fife Flyers next up for us.

"Either way, we have to make sure we're better than we were after this one. Edinburgh made us work for this win after we beat them heavily on Saturday."

This weekend's clashes promise to be mouth-watering as it guarantees Scottish representation in the showpiece finals for the second time in three years.

The fact both these teams made it two years ago adds an extra caveat as one will certainly not make the party this years.

Clan's two games with the bottom of the table Caps was seen as routine by many of the fans and while Saturday's 8-1 win looked that way, Sunday's wasn't by any stretch.

In the first game, they surged into a five-goal lead after the first 20 minutes with two from Bari McKenzie and one apiece from Stefan Meyer, Scott Pitt and Scott Aarssen.

Toni Dahlman added Braehead's sixth, before Taylor Dickin pulled one back for Edinburgh. Thomas Nesbitt and Meyer's second rounded off the heavy win at home.

But in Murrayfield 24 hours later, it wasn't as clean cut as Braehead left it until the third period to make the points secure.

Clan took the lead in the early stages as Jamie Fritsch and Thomas Nesbitt put them two in front, but Edinburgh levelled through Garrett Milan and Nikita Kolesnikovs.

Marcus Gotz restored a lead for Braehead before Milan regained parity again for the Caps to make it 3-3.

Braehead kicked on and got the points they needed through Pitt, Matt Keith and Alex Leavitt to start the celebrations.

As for Fife, they ended the weekend without a point as their Conference hopes slipped away as their attentions turn to the two-legged clash with their Glasgow rivals next week.

After losing 5-3 at Belfast Giants on Friday, they were beaten again on Saturday, going down 5-1 to leave Northern Ireland without a point.

The home side found themselves two up after the opening period as Mike Radja and Jim Vandermeer struck for Belfast Giants.

Radja added a third before Shayne Stockton found the net for Fife. Kris Beech reopened Belfast's three-goal lead before Colin Shields added a late fifth.

Flyers returned home to face Sheffield Steelers on Sunday, who took a 3-1 win away from Kirkcaldy to clinch the Elite League title.

Tyler Mosienko and Russ Moyer put the Steelers two up before Shayne Stockton scored in reply, but Matthieu Roy's third period goal confirmed a Fife loss to end their campaign.

Flyers coach Todd Dutiaume was proud of his team despite their heartache and is already looking ahead to locking horns with Braehead.

He said: "I have to congratulate Braehead Clan on rising to the challenge and getting the result they needed in Edinburgh to achieve it.

"The big positives are my players had a great second half of the season, finished in our highest ever league position and almost taking the Conference.

"Now we have the chance to play the Clan for a place in the play-off finals and while it will be a tight game, it guarantees Scottish representation in Nottingham for the finals."

Dundee Stars ended their regular season campaign with a 2-1 win over Coventry Blaze on Saturday as they prepared for their play-off tilt.

Dundee were the team ahead after the first period, with Justin Faryna's goal separating them before Jim Jorgensen levelled early in the third for Coventry.

Lou Dickenson struck late on to keep the points on Tayside, with the Stars now facing second placed Cardiff Devils in the quarter-finals for a place in Nottingham.

WEEKEND RESULTS

Friday

Belfast Giants 5 Fife Flyers 3

Saturday

Belfast Giants 5 Fife Flyers 1

Braehead Clan 8 Edinburgh Capitals 1

Dundee Stars 2 Coventry Blaze 1

Sunday

Edinburgh Capitals 3 Braehead Clan 6

Fife Flyers 1 Sheffield Steelers 3

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