Cloutier: Time to produce the goods
COACH Sylvain Cloutier says his players have no excuses for failing to get their act together.
Despite being at full strength, the Rapid Solicitors Hull Stingrays lost 3-2 on penalty shots to both Edinburgh and Coventry over the weekend.
Cloutier has already brought in new import defenceman Dmitri Rodin.
He is also currently searching for a new forward, with American Jake Riddle being linked with a return to his former club.
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The axe is then expected to fall on two of the club's imports, possibly this week.
Cloutier, though, insists his players cannot use the pressure of uncertainty over their futures as an excuse.
He said: "You have to be professional and show up and do your job.
"There are no excuses for not showing up and playing hard.
"You can't worry about team changes, as they can be any time of the year.
"If they use that as an excuse, it's pretty lame."
On Saturday, a lacklustre Stingrays were indebted to a double strike from Jereme Tendler to earn a point.
Tendler's 30th-minute strike cancelled out Curtis Leinweber's 13th-minute opener.
Tendler put Stingrays 2-1 up on 34 minutes.
In the third period Kurtis Dulle's hospital pass played Stingrays into trouble and Rodin took a penalty to stave off Edinburgh's goal chance.
Richard Hartmann levelled on the resulting powerplay, taking the game into overtime and penalty shots.
Predictably, Stingrays made it six shoot-out losses this season as Janis Ozolins, Rodin and Tendler failed to convert, leaving Leinweber to grab Capitals the extra point.
Cloutier said: "It was a weird game, as some guys got going, and some guys didn't.
"It's disappointing not to have all 20 guys show up for such a massive game."
With Ryan Hand restored to the line-up last night in Coventry, and Cloutier coaching from the bench, Stingrays had hoped for a flying start.
Instead, Dustin Cameron and Greg Leeb put Blaze 2-0 up inside eight minutes.
Cale Tanaka struck for 2-1 on 25 minutes and Jason Silverthorn levelled three minutes later, sending the game into overtime and penalty shots, but with the same predictable result.
With Dominic Osman, Matty Davies and Silverthorn all missing, it was left to Mike Schutte to convert his attempt for Blaze's winner.
Cloutier said: "It was a good point but, unlike last year, we just can't score on penalty shots. I think we need football-sized goals!"
The defeats mean Stingrays have won just twice in 14 games and sit four points off the play-offs at the foot of the Elite League table.
However, their next five games are against teams from their own Gardiner Conference in Braehead, Edinburgh and Fife.
Cloutier said: "It's crunch time, there are no more excuses.
"We must get something out of these games, otherwise it will be difficult to battle our way into the play-offs."