KURTIS Dulle has been handed the captain’s armband again at Hull Stingrays following Josh Mizerek’s sudden departure.
Mizerek did not make the trip to Scotland for Hull’s matches against Braehead Clan and Edinburgh Capitals, prompting speculation over his future.
Dulle was captain during the 2010-11 campaign, but missed the start of this season before returning in October to help shore up the team’s leaky defence, of which Mizerek was a part.
Short-benched Stingrays went down 4-2 in Braehead before losing in a shoot-out 7-6 at Edinburgh Capitals last night.
“I would like to wish Josh nothing but the best for the future,” said Cloutier.
“Dulles has been around, he is an experienced guy and will hold guys accountable.”
The departure of Mizerek comes less than two weeks after Cloutier was forced to jettison one of his imports - Frantisek Bakrlik - as they were not in a position to keep a spare import on the bench, with only 10 being allowed to ice at any one time under league rules.
It means Hull will be back to three import-D, a situation Cloutier was keen to avoid and why he persuaded the popular Dulle to return in October.
Despite the current financial troubles of ‘sister’ club Coventry Blaze, Cloutier should be able to free up the money made available by Mizerek’s departure to bring in another defenceman.
On the ice, the loss of Mizerek exacerbated the short-benched status of Hull on their weekend over the border as they were already without injured trio Ryan Lake, Tristan Harper and Dmitry Rodin, while also missing Jack Watkins and Daniel Scott who are on Great Britain Under-20 duty.
As a result, tiredness was always likely to be an issue in both games and so it proved on Saturday when three third period goals put paid to Hull’s hopes at Braehead Arena after they had entered the final session tied at 1-1 thanks to a 21st-minute strike from Jereme Tendler, who was able to add a late consolation on the powerplay.
On Sunday, Stingrays came out of the traps flying with Derek Campbell and Sam McCluskey giving them a two-goal lead.
Marcis Zembergs halved the deficit before Campbell restored the two-goal advantage with a short-handed 21st minute strike. Goals from top scorer Rene Jarolin, Sean Menton and Zembergs put Edinburgh ahead before Tendler struck twice to take his team in 5-4 ahead at the end of the second.
Player-coach Richard Hartmann and Jiri Hanzal then restored the home side’s lead before Tendler registered his hat-trick on the powerplay at 47.22 for a goal which forced the game into overtime and then the penalty shoot-out where Hanzal scored the deciding goal to give the home side the extra point.
“Considering we only had 11 skaters, I thought we did a great job all weekend,” said Cloutier.
“In Braehead, we were doing well to be level with them going into the third, then they got a lucky bounce for their second goal which gave them some momentum and it was tough for us.
“I’m not one to make excuses but if we had a full team I think we could have beaten them.
“Against Edinburgh, we got the offence we were looking for, but we let it slip at the other end. But we only really had three D-men and it’s always going to be pretty tough when you’re down on numbers so I’ve got no complaints.”