NETMINDER Ben Bowns has answered his critics in the best possible way, according to Hull Stingrays team-mate Matty Davies.
A poor start to the Elite League campaign by Stingrays saw them lose five of their first six league games, as well as their opening three Challenge Cup ties.
It was undoubtedly a tough time for Sylvain Cloutier’s team, whose only success in their first nine games overall was a league win at home to Braehead Clan.
However, a gradual change in fortunes given added impetus recently with a new club record of six straight wins, has seen Hull turn their season around, currently sitting top of the Gardiner Conference, while also pushing a number of rivals close for a place in the top half of the overall league standings.
One reason behind the upturn in form, insists Davies, is the form of GB netminder Bowns in the Hull goal, with the 23-year-old Rotherham-born stopper recently voted EIHL Player of the Week.
“There’s some real good stuff going on at the minute here – it’s the best time I’ve known it in my five years here,” said centre Davies, himself proving to be an influential figure again this season with a points tally of 39 – split between seven goals and 32 assists.
“I feel really proud of Bownsy in particular and the way he’s come back this season.
To see Matty Davies talk about team-mate Ben Bowns and his own recent return to the ice click the PLAY button
“He had a really tough start and there were a lot questions being put on Bownsy which I felt was a bit unfair really.
“He’s still a young lad and I’ve known him for a long time and I know he really works hard. I’ve seen the work he puts in off the ice and that has been really great to see. It’s really good to see him come through the other side of it and he’s winning big games for us at the minute.
“But everyone’s doing their bit and we’ve got a really great dressing room, everyone gets along and we just have to keep doing what we have been doing in recent weeks.”
Hull’s six-game win streak was ended at Braehead last Sunday and this weekend sees them take a break from Gardiner Conference action with a home game against Coventry Blaze being followed by a trip to defending champions Nottingham Panthers on Sunday.
A win on Saturday would stretch Stingrays’ winning streak on home ice to eight games – another club record – although they face a Blaze side desperate to erase the three-point advantage Hull enjoy over them in the league standings and riding high after wins against Nottingham and Cardiff Devils last weekend.
“We quickly moved on from last Sunday as the guys have produced an outstanding effort over the last six weeks,” said player-coach Cloutier.
“Our winning run came to an end, but now all we want to do is start another one.
“Every game is tough, even more so at this stage of the season. We have played well against Coventry all year. They have made a couple of changes but they still have a quality line-up which they proved last weekend.”