Stingrays: 'It's been a great year, but disappointing too'
CAPTAIN Kurtis Dulle says he has mixed feelings about the Rapid Solicitors Hull Stingrays season.
After weeks of battling to make the top eight – and at one stage sitting top of the Gardiner Conference – Braehead finally slammed the door shut on Stingrays' play-off hopes.
Their victory over Dundee last night put them on 46 points – five ahead of Dulle's side with only two games remaining.
Edinburgh and Dundee in eighth and ninth have 44 points, but they play each other twice this weekend.
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Hence, Stingrays are condemned to finish outside the play-off places – even if they beat Sheffield tonight and Coventry tomorrow.
It's a far cry from last year when Stingrays were booking their place in the top eight and, even better, beating Sheffield to reach the semi-finals.
"Last year we weren't supposed to make the play-offs and things happened at the right time, we beat the right teams and we finished seventh," said Dulle.
"This year we're not in that situation but everyone you talk to thinks it's been a successful year.
"We've more points than last year, but at the same time if you don't make the play-offs it's disappointing.
"It doesn't matter how many points you have or how much you win, it's whether you get in or fall short.
"It was a great year, but if you're not in the play-offs and everyone else is you can't be happy with that."
Stingrays were already in a hole last weekend, sitting bottom of the table, but only one point off the play-offs.
However, rule number one is if you're in a hole, you stop digging.
Sadly, Stingrays positively used a stick of dynamite to create a canyon.
Having only lost once to Cardiff all season – and that was in overtime – Stingrays lost 4-2, undermining their chances with a couple of howlers which led to two of the Devils' goals.
If last Saturday was frustrating, Sunday's 5-0 loss is best forgotten with Ben Bowns, Dominic Osman, Sylvain Cloutier and Ryan Hand all thrown out for various indiscretions, along with Dundee's Jeff Hutchins and Nic Riopel.
"The game against Cardiff, that was heartbreak," said Dulle.
"We'd kept them close all season and at home we should have won and put ourselves in a good position for the play-offs, and not have had all these scenarios that could happen this weekend.
"We were still alive on Sunday but what can you say? It was a disaster, the wheels fell off with penalties and that was the end of that.
"Saturday was just one of those games. We played well enough to win but a few things went wrong. There's nothing you can do, that's hockey we can't go back now, it's too late."
Nevertheless, Dulle says Stingrays must give it their best shot in a bid to finish the season on a high.
"It's very important for everyone to play well so we can salvage what we can," said Dulle, who was this week named as the club's defenceman of the year by fans.
"We may as well try to win and let destiny take its course."