Stingrays will keep fighting for Elite League play-offs despite Cardiff defeat
COACH Sylvain Cloutier insists Rapid Solicitors Hull Stingrays will "battle to the end" – despite virtually blowing their hopes of qualifying for the play-offs in a disastrous penultimate weekend.
Back-to-back defeats against Cardiff (4-2) and Dundee (5-0) leaves Rapid Solicitors Stingrays three points off eighth place.
The losses ended their hopes of reaching the play-offs via the Gardiner Conference top spot.
It means Cloutier's side must beat Sheffield and Coventry in their final two games – and rely on an unlikely sequence of results from their rivals – to stand any chance of qualifying.
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"All four points would have left us in touch with sixth with two games to go," said Cloutier, who will miss at least Saturday's clash in South Yorkshire after picking up a travesty of the game match penalty last night in Dundee.
"Instead, we're at the bottom, but we won't give up, no matter what.
"We haven't given up all season and we won't quit now."
Stingrays started the weekend just one point adrift and facing Cardiff – a team they had already beaten four times this season.
Unfortunately, the Devils finally looked like the top-five side they are, while Stingrays shot themselves in the foot by careless play which cost them two goals and, ultimately, the game.
Devils took the lead at 12.04 through Ben Davies, thanks to a Stingrays gifted pass, but Dominic Osman levelled at 26.51.
Jereme Tendler put Stingrays in front, but just 12 seconds later Davies levelled for Cardiff.
Another howler let in Stuart MacRae at 43.20 and, after Stingrays pulled netminder Ben Bowns in favour of the extra out-ice skater, Chris Blight added the insurance strike for the Welsh side with 10 seconds remaining.
"It was disappointing because the game was there for the taking," reflected Cloutier. "But we got away from our usual game plan, we turned the puck over and it cost us with two goals."
Last night Billy Bagron put Dundee 1-0 with a ninth-minute powerplay opener.
With defenceman Shane Lovdahl sitting out a 10-minute abuse misconduct penalty, Matt Baxter made it 2-0 on 17.30.
Bagron added a powerplay third just before the second break before Ben Bowns received a five-plus-game misconduct penalty and his opposite number Nic Riopel a high sticks penalty on 40 minutes, leaving both teams using their back-up keepers.
Cloutier and opposite number Jeff Hutchins and forwards Osman and Ryan Hand all received their marching orders in the last 10 minutes as tempers frayed, with two Mike Wirll strikes completing Stingrays' misery.