Clan still within reach

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Player-coach Sylvain Cloutier remains confident his Hull Stingrays can still overhaul sixth-placed Braehead Clan.

Stingrays, who welcome the Dundee Stars to Hull Arena tonight (7.00) before heading to Coventry Blaze tomorrow, currently lie in seventh spot, 10 points adrift of Braehead and with four games in hand.

Braehead pulled off on the biggest shocks of the season on Friday night when they thumped second-placed Cardiff Devils 7-1. But they still have to play Hull twice more before the end of the season meaning the race for sixth remains in Hull’s hands.

“Braehead are still within our reach and we want to catch them,” said Cloutier.

“We’ve got to play them twice and we have three games in hand. It will probably all come down to the last week or so when we have six games in eight days or something like that, one of which is up at their place.

“Hopefully, we’ll have all our bodies fit and be ready to go for that trip.”

Cloutier will welcome back key personnel for saturday night’s visit from Dundee, most notably on the blue line.

Drew Bannister (groin), Craig Mitchell (shoulder) and Aivars Gaisins (work commitments) all missed Wednesday night’s 7-5 defeat at Hull Arena by league leaders Sheffield Steelers but are expected to return along with forward Lee Esders (shoulder).

While Braehead remain the main target for Hull, Cloutier is aware of the threat posed by the Stars, who sit one place and five points below the Stingrays having played four games more.

“It’s a massive game for us,” said Cloutier.

“Having almost a full line-up and all our defencemen back out there is a big boost.

“We’re really keen to catch Braehead, but we also need to make sure we keep ahead of Dundee.”