CARL LAUZON capped off a fine weekend for Hull Stingrays, who sealed a maximum return in the Elite League with two wins.
If a 2-1 overtime win in front of the live TV cameras at Coventry Blaze wasn’t enough for Sylvain Cloutier’s players, they were able to cap a wonderful 48 hours with a 5-4 win over Gardiner Conference rivals Fife Flyers on home ice on Sunday night.
Returning from injury, Matty Davies was the hero at the Skydome Arena on Saturday, poking home an overtime winner after Jereme Tendler’s 50th-minute strike had cancelled out Ashley Tait’s second period opener.
Just under 24 hours later in Hull, it wasn’t until the closing minutes that the East Yorkshire club were finally able to put the Flyers down, the Scottish club twice coming back to level before Lauzon pounced for the game-winning goal on the powerplay at 54.21.
Earlier, Guillaume Doucet had given Hull a third-minute lead on the powerplay, Bobby Chaumont levelling at 19.33 before Davies put his side back in front again one second before the break.
Captain Jeff Smith then doubled his side’s advantage at 21.32 only for Chaumont’s second just after the halfway point to cut the deficit to one.
Doucet’s 32nd goal of the season at 33.14 made it 4-2 for less than two minutes as Derek Roehl struck for the visitors to make it a one-goal game again.
It got better for Fife when they levelled for a second time through Kyle Haines at 47.41, but Hull were able to keep up the pressure on Conference leaders Dundee Stars – 4-3 winners over Braehead Clan – when Lauzon’s 15th goal of the season clinched both points.
“It was a massive weekend for us,” said a delighted Cloutier. “We had a big win on the road in Coventry and backed it up. I told the guys before the game that if we lost against Fife then the win in Coventry meant nothing.
“We are up to sixth now which is a great achievement and we want to keep that going.
“Coventry is a tough place to play but it was a tight game, we kept it simple, the guys never gave up and they battled all night. Our PK was good and Bownsy (netminder Ben Bowns) was on and won us the game.
“We have had a lot of tight games, but you have to find a way to win and we have done that this weekend.
“Against Fife, we came out hard, were physical and ready to go. It was good to finally have some bodies back and roll three lines this weekend and it made a huge difference.”
A weekend on the road was always going to be a tough proposition for Sheffield Steelers, but they will have been pleased with the three points gained.
Stefan Meyer’s 53rd-minute strike was enough for a 3-2 win at Braehead, a result which lifted the visitors above their Scottish rivals in the standings.
A strike from Drew Fata on the powerplay at 10.51 gave the visitors the advantage, the lead being doubled through Jonathan Phillips at 33.38. Ash Goldie reduced the deficit at 38.23 and it was all square as Joe Cullen netted shorthanded at 49.18.
A 4-3 defeat after a shoot-out in South Wales saw the Steelers return home from the Cardiff Devils with just the one point.
Rob Sirianni cancelled out Ben Davies’s fifth-minute opener for Cardiff before Phil Hill put the Steelers ahead on his return to his former club on the powerplay.
Jake Morrisette levelled before Mark Smith put Cardiff ahead for a second time four minutes later at 38.01. Chad Langlais’s 43rd-minute powerplay leveller eventually led to the shoot-out, where Morrisette and Marsh scored for Cardiff as Sirianni and Jeff Legue missed for the Steelers.
Dundee’s win over Braehead lifted them second in the overall leaague standings, leaving Steelers third, 13 points behind leaders Belfast Giants with a game in hand.
Hull sit one point Dundee in the Gardiner Conference table, with the Stars having played three games less.
WEEKEND EIHL RESULTS
Sunday: Cardiff Devils 4 Sheffield Steelers 3 (SO), Dundee Stars 4 Braehead Clan 3, Edinburgh Capitals 4 Coventry Blaze 3 (SO), Hull Stingrays 5 Fife Flyers 4.
Saturday: Belfast Giants 2 Dundee Stars 3 (OT), Braehead Clan 2 Sheffield Steelers 3, Coventry Blaze 1 Hull Stingrays 2, Fife Flyers 1 Edinburgh Capitals 3, Nottingham Panthers 9 Cardiff Devils 2.