Ice hockey: Edinburgh Capitals retain Elite League play-off hopes

Jared Staal picked up six assists for Edinburgh Capitals over the weekend
Jared Staal picked up six assists for Edinburgh Capitals over the weekend

Edinburgh Capitals forward Jared Staal says his team are not yet out of the play-off reckoning after picking up four points out of six at the weekend.

Wins over Dundee Stars and Fife Flyers took them to within two points of the Stars at the bottom of the Elite League as they look to fight their way into the top eight.

However, he put the defeat to Belfast Giants down to fatigue as they could not make it three wins from three.

"We're happy with at least four out of six and we knew, coming into the weekend, we had to get that to keep pace going for the play-offs," Staal said.

"We ran out of gas against Belfast on Sunday, but we were pleased at the two wins before. We're not out of this by a long way and we have enough confidence to string some wins together.

"Our aim is to catch Dundee and Coventry and try to sneak into the play-offs, but I hope we have Dundee worried as things stand."

The Caps' two victories have breathed new life into their play-off hopes just when it seemed like they would be left behind.

Their weekend began at Dundee Stars on Friday night, taking a big win on penalty shots to close the gap on the Tayside club just above them in the table.

Mason Wilgosh and Staal saw their goals wiped out by two from Cale Tanaka and one from Justin Faryna before Capitals captain Jacob Johnston levelled to take the game into overtime.

When that couldn't separate them, penalty shots were needed and Johnston's crucial one was the one that got Edinburgh the two points.

It was on to Kirkcaldy on Saturday, where they needed overtime to beat their Fife Flyers 5-4 after a thrilling contest.

Ian Schultz and Chase Schaber traded goals for either team before Taylor MacDougall and Carlo Finucci did the same with Karel Hromas put the Caps in front.

Flyers briefly turned things around as Sebastien Thinel and Matt Sisca put Fife 4-3 in front, but Michal Dobron equalised to take the game to the extra period where he struck the winner.

The Capitals returned home to Murrayfield on Sunday where they took on title challengers Belfast Giants, but the Giants helped their own league hopes with an 8-3 win.

Edinburgh kept it close as Jaroslav Hertl, Hromas and Matt Tipoff all struck to keep the game poised at 3-3.

Belfast kicked on as Chris Higgins, Steve Saviano, Adam Keefe, Matt Nickerson and James Desmarais struck to make it a four point weekend for them.

Giants had begun their weekend in Glasgow and edged Braehead Clan in their only game of the weekend, taking a 5-4 result.

Mike Hammond and Scott Pitt scored two early for the Clan, but two from Mike Forney and one from Mark Garside had the Giants 3-2 up by the end of the first period.

Pitt's second levelled for the home team, but Desmarais restored Belfast's lead and although Hammond got his second to equalise, Forney completed his hat-trick to clinch the win.

Dundee Stars moved on from Friday's loss with a trip to Sheffield Steelers on Saturday, who themselves are staying in touch with the title race.

The Steelers edged another nine-goal thriller and went ahead early through strikes from Matthieu Roy and Robert Dowd.

Stars turned it around with goals two from Kevin Bruijsten either side of a Vinny Scarsella strike. Levi Nelson squared things up at 3-3 before Roy's second edged the Steelers in front again.

Although Joey de Concilys struck for Dundee to level again, Nelson's second of the game sealed a tough win for Sheffield.

Fife Flyers got the award for the most dramatic win of the weekend as they were 3-1 down with three minutes to go to take victory over Nottingham Panthers 4-3 in overtime.

Ryan Dingle gave them the perfect start, but Nottingham soared into the lead though David Clarke, Jeff Brown and Brian McGrattan.

Schaber pulled one back with three to go, but Bryan Cameron's last-gasp equaliser with four seconds to go sent the game into overtime.

Matt Sisca's goal claimed the win as Flyers strengthened their hold on fourth place over the Panthers.

Weekend results

Friday

Elite League

Dundee Stars 3-4 (PS) Edinburgh Capitals

Saturday

Elite League

Braehead Clan 4-5 Belfast Giants

Fife Flyers 4-5 (OT) Edinburgh Capitals

Sheffield Steelers 5-4 Dundee Stars

Sunday

Elite League

Edinburgh Capitals 3-8 Belfast Giants

Fife Flyers 4-3 (OT) Nottingham Panthers

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