HULL Stingrays’ Jereme Tendler insists he feels no added pressure to fire his team into the Elite League play-offs – having scored almost a third of his side’s goals this season.
The 29-year-old Canadian forward grabbed all four goals in his team’s 4-3 win over fellow strugglers Edinburgh Capitals on Wednesday night, including the crucial overtime winner.
It took his tally for the season to 36 goals from 41 games and above Cardiff’s Mac Faulkner at the top of the league’s goalscoring table. It means he has now scored just over 30 per cent of Hull’s 119-goal haul for the season and, with 17 games remaining in the regular league season, he is in line to better his previous best for the club in 2010-11 – his first in the UK – when he scored 50 goals in 59 games.
The goalscoring exploits of Tendler, who also leads the league charts in powerplay and short-handed goals, is sure to increase interest in his services this summer from other Elite League clubs and, quite probably, further afield.
That will come as nothing new to him given his success in East Yorkshire since he arrived two-and-a-half years ago.
But given his clear loyalty to both player-coach Sylvain Cloutier and the club, it would be no great surprise if he were return to East Yorkshire for a fourth season.
With regard to his high percentage rate of goals, Tendler is quietly modest and insists he is simply doing the job he was brought in to do by Cloutier in September 2010.
“I wouldn’t say I feel there is more pressure on me because I am here to score goals – that’s my job. Hopefully, they can keep going in for me,” he said.
“Beating Edinburgh was the biggest two points of the year for us. We’re fighting and scratching to get two points every night so it was massive.”
Wednesday night’s win couldn’t lift Hull off the bottom of the overall league standings, but it closed the gap on ninth-placed Edinburgh to just two points. Crucially, they have three games in hand on their Scottish rivals.
Both teams will also have an eye on Fife Flyers, who sit in the eighth and final play-off spot, four points ahead of Hull but with the Stingrays having two games in hand on Todd Dutiaume’s team.
With 17 games to play, there is clearly still much to play for and Tendler is confident Hull will extend their season beyond Sunday, March 24.
“We’ll make the play-offs – without a doubt,” he said.
“I don’t want the season to end early, none of us do because we all want to make the play-offs.”
While he is best-known for his ability to find the net, Cloutier – who first signed him during his brief stint as coach of Corpus Christi Ice Rayz in the Central Hockey League in 2008-09 – points out there are plenty of other attributes that make Tendler such a prized asset.
“He’s been extremely important to us since the day he first arrived here,” said Cloutier.
“I knew what I was getting with Jereme because of when I signed him at Corpus Christi. He’s been loyal to this club and we’ve been loyal to him.
“It’s not just his goals though. We use him in every situation – he’s a great penalty killer, he’s smart and he’s a great team-mate.
“Sure, he’s fairly quiet and laid back but he works hard and he’s a true professional in that he does the job you ask him to do.”
And while Tendler continues to make most of the headlines for the Stingrays, Cloutier emphasises how vital the rest of his line-up will be heading down the stretch - beginning with this weekend’s matches against Belfast Giants and Coventry Blaze.
“It was nice that Jereme got four goals against Edinburgh, but I felt we played well as a team which was really good to see,” said Cloutier, who despite coming close to bringing in a new forward in recent weeks, said he was happy to stick with his current roster through to the end of the campaign.
“I believe in these guys and believe they can do a job. I told the guys before the Edinburgh game ‘this is our team’ and we’re going to stick together.”