Stingrays' Bowns tipped for success
COACH Sylvain Cloutier believes Hull Stingrays' starting keeper Ben Bowns will soon be good enough to carve out a career in North America.
The 21-year-old today flew out to Japan for the GB squad's Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament.
Bowns – signed on a two-year deal from English Premier League Sheffield Steeldogs – is a rising star on the domestic scene, given the dearth of British goalies.
And Cloutier believes improving Bowns is destined for a successful career.
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The Rapid Solicitors Stingrays' coach said: "Ben has a great future, and could be the number one goalie for GB.
"He probably needs another season in the Elite League and then maybe go over to the East Coast Hockey League.
"I don't want to lose him but we want young people to succeed and Ben is a nice guy, he's the sort of guy you want to help.
"If he's offered a place abroad in a few seasons I would probably recommend he accepts it.
"He's still young and needs to develop a bit more as a player, but you can see in his play, with some of the saves he's now making, that he's getting better every week."
And Cloutier revealed Bowns is picking up tips from his brother Dan, who spent 10 years in the NHL and is now goaltending consultant with Vancouver Canucks.
"Dan has been watching Ben on DVD clips and stuff," said Cloutier.
"Dan wants to help him and other goalies, that's what he's done his whole life."
Bowns has also been taking advice from fellow keeper Greg Blais, who will deputise in this weekend's clashes with Coventry Blaze.
Blais holds a GB passport, but is Canadian-born, so counts as Stingrays' 12th import, one more than allowed to ice in a game.
Originally Canadian Cloutier planned to make way and coach from the bench.
However, Cale Tanaka's shoulder injury will allow Cloutier to ice after all.
Canadian Tanaka was taken to hospital after a collision with Fife's Danny Stewart on Sunday night.
He has a ruptured AC joint and is out for six to eight weeks.
"It's unfortunate but it's part of the game, I'm looking forward to getting back as soon as possible," said Tanaka."
STINGRAYS have completed the permanent signing of forward Tom Squires, 21, from Sheffield Steeldogs.
He has played in Stingrays' last two games after signing on a two-way deal last week.