Rest period overdue for impressive Hull

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HULL STINGRAYS’ player-coach Sylvain Cloutier is hoping his players can use the short festive break to repair their tired and battered bodies before returning refreshed to Elite League action at the weekend.

The East Yorkshire club have enjoyed a rich vein of form of late, taking 10 points out of a possible 14 to leave them top of the Gardiner Conference and well-placed in the overall league standings, currently sitting four points clear of the bottom two.

Saturday night’s magnificent 7-5 win over defending champions Nottingham Panthers couldn’t quite be followed up by further success at Fife Flyers 24 hours later when Cloutier’s team went down 5-3.

But the Hull coach believes the absence of several key players in recent weeks was bound to eventually catch up with his short-benched team.

“We looked tired in Fife at times – playing short has taken its toll,” said Cloutier.

“The guys have really stuck together over the last few months when we’ve been missing several players – they have logged a lot of minutes and they are now going to have some deserved rest.

“I am very proud of the way we have battled recently. We were missing key guys again but I was pleased with the performance.”

Stingrays are next in action again on Saturday night when they welcome Edinburgh Capitals to Hull Arena, where a repeat of the 7-1 win they enjoyed over the Scottish side two weeks ago will be welcomed by Cloutier.

“We have got a few days off before the Capitals game which will be good for us to get recharged and maybe get some more bodies back,” he added.

“We have to make sure that we just keep picking up points each weekend, even if it’s just a single point – keep adding to our total and that will help us keep up the pressure on the other teams, particularly in our own Conference.

“We have worked extreme;ly hard to get there and we can’t let up in any way.”

With another night off on Sunday Hull then travel to Belfast Giants on Monday night for the first leg of their Challenge Cup quarter-final, a match which will also double up as a league fixture.