Hull Stingrays coach still aiming for play-offs
COACH Sylvain Cloutier admits Hull Stingrays "can't afford to take a night off" if they are to make this season's Elite League play-offs.
Their 2-1 victory over Cardiff Devils was followed by a 4-0 defeat to title chasers Sheffield last night.
Those two results, combined with those of their nearest rivals, leaves the Rapid Solicitors Stingrays bottom of the table.
They now have just 10 matches to make up the five-point gap to the top-eight play-off places.
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Asked if it's now a case of points rather than performances which count, Cloutier said: "It's all about finding a way to get points at this time of year, we can't afford to have a night off.
"If the guys can't get excited about games at this stage of the year then they'll never get excited about anything."
On Saturday, a Jesse Gimblett tip-in and Dominic Osman wrap-around left it 1-1 at the first period break.
It stayed that way – thanks to the efforts of keepers Ben Bowns and Chris Whitley and poor finishing – until Kurtis Dulle struck a powerplay winner inside the last three minutes.
It was not a classic by any means.
Stingrays were hampered by missing Jason Silverthorn (suspended) and Cale Tanaka (injured), while Cardiff lost Max Birbraer during the game after a crunching Martin Ondrej hit, who joined Mac Faulkner (injured) on the sidelines.
"We found a way to get a good win against a top-five team, it was a big two points for us," reflected Cloutier.
"I think we were pretty solid for the whole 60 minutes and we played smart, which was good to see."
Unfortunately, Stingrays could not follow up that win – their fourth in five attempts against the Devils this season – with another in Sheffield last night.
Steelers were good value for their victory with Shawn Limpright's double leaving it 2-0 at the first interval. Simon Ferguson added a powerplay third just before half-way, Limpright completing his hat-trick in the final minute.
"It was disappointing not to get anything out of the game," said Cloutier, after his side lost for a fifth time this season to their South Yorkshire rivals.
"We showed character and grit, but just couldn't find a way to score a goal.
"However, we played two of the big five teams in the league this weekend, so you have to be happy with two points.
"Now we've just got to re-group for Fife and Braehead next weekend because they are massive games for us."