Cloutier: Time to refocus

HULL, UK – Player-coach Sylvain Cloutier admits Rapid Solicitors Hull Stingrays cannot afford to drop too many more points in their battle for the Elite League Gardiner Conference title.

Two successive conference defeats have seen Stingrays miss the chance to extend their lead at the top, which has now been reduced to one point.Hull Stingrays logo

Cardiff Devils head to Hull Arena tomorrow night (6.30pm face-off) in the Elite League before Stingrays travel to Fife Flyers in the conference on Sunday night.

Cloutier said: “We cannot afford too many more slip-ups. It is time to refocus and we have to make sure we are ready for Cardiff.

“I have said all season they are a good team. They lost their number one goalie for a lot of the season and if he had been fit then they would not be where they are now.

“Their new Polish goalie has come in and is winning them games. They are on a decent run of form and we know we are in for a tough game.

“Yes, they lost at home to Coventry but their players will have been out to impress the new coach. Cardiff are not an eighth-placed team. They have a solid team and they have players who can hurt you.”

Stingrays then head to Kirkcaldy on Sunday looking to avoid a third successive conference defeat.

Cloutier added: “Fife are another good team and most of our games have been close this season. We hit a bump in the road against them last time at home but they are a desperate team right now as they try and fight their way to a play-off spot so it is going to be another tough game.

“There are not many games left now, they are all Games Sevens and we need to be switched on – it is all about who wants it more.”

Stingrays will be without Canadian forward Kyle Mariani as he undergoes an operation on his depressed fracture of the cheekbone today but Pavel Gomeniuk is back after work commitments ruled him out of Wednesday’s loss to Braehead. Jason Silverthorn could return to the line-up after injury.

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