PIRATES CRASH AND BURN
PAISLEY PIRATES 1 EDINBURGH CAPITALS 2
Pirates surrendered their unbeaten league record, and a two year long unbeaten home record, with a below par performance that saw them defeated by an Edinburgh team which, while perhaps not being the best opposition the home team have faced this season, were certainly good enough to secure the two points and inflict serious damage upon any title aspirations.
In a tight opening period, neither team threatened the opposition netminders to any great extent, although both were equal to any efforts coming their way. Pirates should have had a penalty shot when Chris Wilson was clean through but was hooked back by Walker, the resultant call being a minor penalty for Hooking rather than a penalty shot, but the home side appeared to be the victims of a number of dubious decisions during the game which clearly affected them to a significant degree. In this instance, Edinburgh easily played off the only penalty called on them during the session, Pirates doing likewise with the three called on them, to leave the scoreboard blank after twenty minutes.
The home side continued to incur the wrath of referee Graham, who ensured a steady flow of players to the home penalty box, and in the 27th minute the visitors took the lead through Gautschi to open the scoring on the powerplay. Pirates continued to huff and puff without threatening any structural damage, but actually pulled level with under two minutes of the period remaining, a shot by Blair deceiving Mallinson to ensure the scores were again level as the teams headed for the dressing room.
The third session was delayed for a significant period of time, as a loose puck became lodged under the Zamboni, thus rendering the resurfacing of the ice impossible, but once play got underway the same pattern of the opening two periods was repeated for much of the action, with Pirates weaving some pretty patterns towards the goal but failing to turn any of that pressure into goals. With nine minutes left, the home side appeared to have shot themselves in both feet as Turley and Orr took simultaneous minors to leave the visitors 5 on 3 for a full two minutes, but this time they held firm and looked likely to escape with at least a draw from a substandard performance, as while Caps had the puck in the home zone for the full two minutes, they were unable to pierce a resolute defence.
However, with under four minutes remaining, Capitals broke and Ferguson was on hand to net the winner, leaving the home side with nothing from a performance which, to be blunt, was all that they deserved. While they certainly were on the receiving end of some dubious decisions over the course of the night, they appeared unable to rise above it and produce the kind of performance which they had, until tonight, been able to pull out of the hat, with passes going astray, and the regular penalties called by the official appearing to affect them more than it should have..
They now face the potentially hazardous trip to Elgin next Saturday, a rink where, in recent seasons, they have been unable to rise above the adversity faced to secure a win, and coach Ian Turley will have to work hard in training this week to lift his troops and produce a performance worthy of the bus load of supporters travelling to the game.
Scorers: Blair (1+0), Jordan (0+1)
Penalties: Turley (16), Blair & Orr (both 4), Johnston, Wilson & Guy (all 2)
Man of the Match: GRAEME MEECHAN (19 saves from 21 shots)