The on-ice fortunes for the Edinburgh Capitals may have been distinctly inconsistent of late, but it is far from doom and gloom.
It is no secret that the club have prided themselves on their willingness to give young Brits significant ice time and it has been vindicated in recent weeks following Capitals’ defenceman Tyler Plews’ call up to the GB U20 fold, following on from forward Sean Beattie’s call-up to the senior GB side a few weeks earlier. Plews himself continues to flourish as a key fixture of player/coach Michal Dobron’s plans. Alongside compatriot Jay King, they provide not just the core British presence in defence, but arguably the spine of the domestic talent currently at Murrayfield Ice Rink.
It is a welcome sign that a side like Edinburgh are reaping the rewards of this acclaim. Traditionally they are overshadowed by flashier Elite Ice Hockey League rivals who have bigger budgets to pack their rosters with more than the 14 overseas players permitted to ice on a given night. For Plews it provides another opportunity for him to continue his development, having skated in over 50 games for Edinburgh since his arrival from the Scottish National League (SNL) side Kirkcaldy Kestrels in 2015. It is something that quite conceivably might be restricted at other clubs who look overseas before they turn closer to home.
While, to some extent, borne out of necessity due to the need to operate within the confines of a smaller budget, the Capitals have long had this commitment to domestic talent and GM Scott Neil confirmed as much when I spoke with him over the summer, even hinting that it is a strategy that all 10 clubs in the league should look to adopt. There is certainly a strong case here. Imports provide the flashy plays and generate the big headlines but the sustainability of the league depends on what clubs such as Edinburgh are doing.
International recognition for Plews and the aforementioned Beattie highlight the merits of such a strategy as the Capitals seek to arrest disappointments in recent seasons by pushing for a play-off berth come March. A recent slump has done little to dispel the feel-good factor around the club, fueled by achievements such as Plews’. Furthermore, he has already had a major hand in a piece of Capitals’ history this season with Edinburgh progressing to a Challenge Cup quarter-final spot for the first time in the club’s Elite League history.
The 19-year-old figures to continue to play a prominent role on the ice, not just for the rest of this season, but in the future as well. His trajectory certainly appears promising for the Capitals who look set to be the chief beneficiaries in the coming months and years.
Plews will join up with his GB U20 teammates for next month’s World Championships (Division 1B) in Budapest, for games against hosts Hungary, Slovenia, Poland, Italy and Ukraine between 11-17 December.
Image courtesy of David Steadman