WITH three of their four remaining Elite League games coming in the next five days, Hull Stingrays know victory over Fife Flyers tonight will go a long way to securing a place in the end-of-season play-offs.
Five weeks ago, Fife were 11 points adrift of the play-off places and seemingly set to join bottom club Edinburgh Capitals in missing out on the post-season.
But a run of nine wins in 12 games has catapulted the Kirkcaldy club into contention as they fight it out with Hull, Coventry Blaze and Cardiff Devils for the three remaining play-off spots.
A win for Hull tonight would give them a five-point cushion over Fife, with their Scottish rivals having a game in hand and the Stingrays left with a visit to Gardiner Conference champions Dundee Stars along with home and away fixtures against Sheffield Steelers.
Fife’s timely discovery of hot form has included two convincing victories over Hull in recent weeks, following up a 7-3 win in East Yorkshire with a 7-2 win on home ice 10 days later.
Hull player-coach Sylvain Cloutier – buoyed by his team’s 5-1 home win over Steelers on Saturday night –is confident his group can get over the finish line.
“If we hadn’t got two points on Saturday then we would have been in a bit of trouble I guess,” said Cloutier. “Fife have got hot at the right time of the season. It’s so close between the four of us at the moment that this is going to go down to the wire.”
Cloutier hopes forward Jereme Tendler’s goal against Steelers on Saturday – his first in five games – will act as a spur to more goalscoring heroics against Fife.
“We took our chances against Sheffield, which was the most pleasing thing,” said Cloutier. “It was nice to see Tendler get a goal as he hadn’t scored in a while, but the scoring was spread about which is always a good thing.”