Warriors fall short as Capitals lift Nothern Challenge Cup

Skippy and Rihards at the Edinburgh net.

Skippy and Rihards at the Edinburgh net. Photo by Ian Coyle.

Whitley Warriors’ quest for the first piece of silverware of the season ended last weekend at the hands of a familiar foe. For Murrayfield Racers in 2020, read Edinburgh Capitals in 2022 as the side from Scotland’s capital city put paid to their hopes of claiming the Northern Challenge Cup.

Warriors have been in outstanding form in recent weeks but find it particularly difficult against their rivals from north of the border. A nine game losing streak to Solway Sharks ended last month but during that time, which dates back to February 2020, Whitley have lost twice to Murrayfield, Dundee Comets and now Edinburgh Capitals.

On Saturday they made the trip up the A1 to face a Capitals side they hadn’t faced since 1999. The Murrayfield-based side are enjoying life back in their rink having not had any hockey at all for the past two seasons.

Whitley arrived short-benched with no fewer than seven senior players unavailable. Thankfully they could rely on their usual top line of Dean Holland, Phil Edgar and Jamie Ord, as well as Shaun Kippin guiding youngsters Lewis Crisp, Matthew Betham, Jay Lucas and Anthony Wetherell. That meant there were senior debuts for Ben Wilson, Jonathan Dellow and James Toby. Whitley could also rely upon Harry Harley, Adam Wood, Rihards Grigors and Connor Lewis on defence, while Josh Crane got the start in goal.

With a vociferous home backing, the Capitals got off to a great start, Chad Smith opening the scoring at 6:13. A minute later and the Capitals were two goals to the good, Archie Holmes scoring from a Sean Cochrane feed.

The Capitals were very much in control and their forechecking was causing the Warriors all sorts of problems, particularly in their defensive zone. Whitley needed a way back into the game and fast but the Capitals continued to dominate the opening period and out-shot them 18-3.

Their superiority was confirmed when they added two further strikes before the period was over. Holmes grabbed his second of the night at 16:12 after combining well with line mates Joel Gautschi and Chad Smith before Aiden Paterson found the net from a Kyle Carruth pass.

Whitley were shell-shocked and had to try and get some sort of a foothold in the game. But,at the midpoint of the contest things went from bad to worse when Russian-born import Andrey Oglobin spotted his team a five goal lead, Joe Lynch and Ross Borwick with the helpers.

Late in the period Whitley did finally have something to cheer about when Jamie Ord fired home a powerfully driven shot from the left wing on the powerplay, the Warriors converting after just seven seconds on the man-advantage with Steven Clark serving a slashing penalty.

Warriors did at least seem to match the home side in the middle session, Dean Holland and Shaun Kippin leading their young teammates well, as the Capitals narrowly outshot them 15-14. But that wasn’t enough to prevent them from restoring their five goal lead with 1:17 remaining in the period. Smith grabbing his second of the night from Ross Borwick which saw the puck somehow squeeze underneath Josh Crane’s pads. A cruel blow perhaps on the Whitley custodian but Edinbu rgh were clinical in taking every chance that came their way.

The third period saw the Warriors fired up. The hits were getting more physical and intense as they finally grew into the game. Phil Edgar found himself all alone in the slot at 46:22 and after finally getting the puck under his control, rifled a shot past Craig Chalmers who could do nothing to stop it.

Whitley continued to push as their play took on an urgency about it. However, captain Dean Holland was starting to get singled out for attention, and did well to keep his composure and temper despite repeated acts of provocation against him.

The game very nearly turned on its head with six minutes remaining when Smith, up until then arguably the Capitals’ most potent offensive weapon, held onto Holland’s stick before the former Kirkcaldy Kestrel forward dropped his gloves and punched the Warriors captain. Holland refused to retaliate and it saw Smith ejected from the contest with a five plus game penalty for instigating.

That gave the Warriors a five minute powerplay and they used it well, cutting the Capitals lead to two with goals from Rihards Grigors, against his former side, and Phil Edgar. Suddenly it was the Capitals who were holding on and the Warriors were unlucky not to have added to their tally whilst having the man-advantage. Whitley out shot Edinburgh 19-4 in that final period with Craig Chalmers doing well to ensure his side had a lead to take with them to Whitley the following night.


Warriors: 37
Capitals: 36

Warriors: Phil Edgar (2+0), Jamie Ord (1+0), Rihards Grigors (1+0), Dean Holland (0+2), Harry Harley (0+1).
Capitals: Chad Smith (2+1), Archie Holmes (2+0), Aiden Paterson (1+0), Andrey Ogoblin (1+0), Ross Borwick (0+2), Sean Cochrane (0+1), Joel Gautschi (0+1), Kyle Carruth (0+1), Joe Lynch (0+1).

Warriors: 6
Capitals: 33

Man of the Match
Warriors: Dean Holland
Capitals: Aiden Paterson

Warriors suffered their first home defeat of the year on Sunday when looking to turn around a two goal deficit from the first leg. Losing 3-2 on the night and 9-6 on aggregate means Whitley have now lost all four games they have played against Edinburgh Capitals.

Going into the game, Whitley were able to welcome back Kyle Ross and Adam Finlinson to their line up, while Edinburgh were missing seven players of their own, including the now suspended Chad Smith who was ejected late in the game the night before.

Whitley began in much the way the Capitals had in the first leg, taking the game to their opponents and looking to build up some early momentum. Their pressure would eventually tell when Phil Edgar slotted home ten minutes in following a great feed from Dean Holland and Jamie Ord.

However, despite the joy of now making it a one-goal deficit to make up, Whitley were soon on the back foot when Kyle Ross was called for a kneeing penalty. With Edinburgh able to heap pressure on the home side, it meant a difficult two minutes but they successfully killed off the penalty and had a powerplay of their own soon after when Joel Gautschi served a hooking call. The Warriors certainly were ahead on points if not goals as they ended the period having out shot the Capitals 16-9.

It was more of the same in the second period as Whitley continued to create chances and despite once again outshooting their opponents 18-4 found themselves all square on the night when Aiden Paterson found the net from Joe Lynch and Ben Coughtrie at 29:30.

The Warriors were back to square one in their quest to make up the two goals and as the period wore on frustration began to build. Craig Chalmers was outstanding in goal for the Capitals and was proving to be an impenetrable barrier.

Whitley were finding it increasingly difficult to get back to what they were doing so well in the opening period. Things boiled over with ten minutes to go when Adam Wood dropped the gloves with Ross Borwick.

With Wood receiving an additional two minutes it meant Whitley had to kill off a penalty. Time was running out and as they committed more players forward, found themselves caught on the break with seven minutes remaining, Joe Lynch finishing with a great strike following good work from on-loan Solway Sharks forward Kyle Carruth.

The Capitals now led on the night and it meant the Warriors would have to score three times just to force overtime. A difficult task but they were given hope when another Sharks-loanee, Kian Shevlin was called for clipping with three minutes to go.

Whitley coach David Longstaff used the opportunity to pull goalie Josh Crane for the additional skater and play 6-on-4, a bold move, but one necessitated given their situation.

Midway through the powerplay Whitley called a time out to give a chance for the top powerplay unit some time to rest before going for a final push. However, from the ensuing faceoff Edinburgh scored the inevitable empty net goal when Ben Coughtrie shot from deep in his own defensive zone to all but seal the win.

There was just time for Adam Finlinson to cut the arrears with 36 seconds left in the game for a consolation. But the game and indeed the weekend belonged to Edinburgh Capitals who deservedly claimed the inaugural Northern Challenge Cup.


Warriors: 47
Capitals: 26

Warriors: Phil Edgar (1+0), Adam Finlinson (1+0), Dean Holland (0+1), Jamie Ord (0+1).
Capitals: Ben Coughtrie (1+1), Joe Lynch (1+1), Aaron Robertson (1+0), Kyle Carruth (0+1), Sean Cochrane (0+1).

Warriors: 18
Capitals: 18

Man of the Match
Warriors: Adam Finlinson
Capitals: Craig Chalmers