SYLVAIN Cloutier was left dismayed after his Hull Stingrays’ team posted another pointless weekend in the Elite League.
Both Dundee Stars and Fife Flyers – the two clubs threatening Hull for the eighth and final play-off spot – may also have both failed to pick up any points, but it didn’t stop frustrated player-coach Cloutier criticising his players as their losing streak stretched to four games.
A 3-1 defeat at Braehead Clan on Saturday was followed by more misery on home ice on Sunday night, when the Scottish side – coached by former Stingrays defenceman Drew Bannister – ran out 7-4 winners, sealing a deserved four-point return despite only having 12 skaters to call upon on both nights.
Next week sees Hull at home to Edinburgh Capitals, realistically the one side they can catch in the Elite League table and a team in something of a slump themselves, a 4-3 defeat at home to Sheffield Steelers on Sunday leaving them with only one win in nine,
They currently sit four points ahead of Hull having played a game less making next Saturday’s encounter vital for both sides in terms of their respective bids to make the post-season.
And after Sunday’s disappointment, Cloutier challenged his players to bounce back with a vastly-improved performance against the Capitals.
“It was a horrible game to be involved in (on Sunday) and I am extremely disappointed,” said Cloutier.
“We targeted four points this weekend but we did not stick to the game plan, we got rattled and took some silly penalties.
“We have to start playing as a team again. We have not got good enough players to beat five guys and put the puck in the net.
“We will find out next weekend how we rebound against Edinburgh and see who wants to show up and play.”
Jordan Krestanovich enjoyed a productive six-point weekend against Hull and gave the visitors the lead on Sunday in the eighth minute. But Hull rallied and were 2-1 ahead before the first period halfway mark thanks to a ninth-minute strike from defenceman Dmitry Rodin and an 18th goal of the season by Jason Silverthorn.
Brock McPherson, who eventually plundered four goals, opened his account at 21.01 on the powerplay to level the scores. Matty Davies responded just over a minute later to regain the lead for the home side before McPherson levelled again at 24.52.
Jade Galbraith was next on the scoresheet for the Clan, firing past Christian Boucher to give the visitors a lead they never relinquished.
An early powerplay in the third, marking McPherson’s hat-trick, made it 5-3 before Stingrays rallied again to make it a one-goal game at 44.40 through Jack Watkins’s powerplay strike.
But less than two minutes later, McPherson grabbed his fourth, seemingly knocking the stuffing out of the home side who conceded a seventh – this time from the stick of Adam Walker – at 53.16.
On Saturday, the hosts were two goals ahead in just under seven minutes when Walker’s second-minute strike was followed by another goal by Krestanovich at 6.54.
Derek Campbell halved the deficit at 10.46 with his sixth goal of the season and that is how things stayed until the 49th minute when Krestanovich doubled his tally to secure both points.
Despite restricting Braehead to just 34 shots – a vast improvement on the average of 55 shots raining down on Boucher’s goal in the previous four matches – Cloutier was not impressed with his team’s overall performance.
“We had three turnovers and it resulted in three goals,” he said. “It has to be addressed.”
Sunday: Cardiff Devils 1 Nottingham Panthers 4, Dundee Stars 0 Coventry Blaze 3, Edinburgh Capitals 3 Sheffield Steelers 4, Hull Stingrays 4 Braehead Clan 7.
Saturday: Belfast Giants 6 Dundee Stars 2, Braehead Clan 3 Hull Stingrays 1, Fife Flyers 1 Sheffield Steelers 2, Nottingham Panthers 2 Cardiff Devils 4.