HULL Stingrays hope a weekend away in Scotland will stop their recent slump as they look to close the gap on their mid-table rivals, writes Phil Harrison.
Sylvain Cloutier’s team first head to Glasgow on Saturday night to take on the Braehead Clan before heading east to face Edinburgh Capitals 24 hours later as they look to snap a four-game losing streak.
It is Hull’s form against the rejuvenated Capitals which has been the most disappointing, although the Scottish club - who barely limped through last season due to financial problems - have, under the guidance of player-coach Richard Hartmann, racked up nine league victories, crucially against the teams around them in the bottom half of the table, including twice against Hull.
It was the Capitals’ surprise 3-2 win in Hull in October which prompted a frustrated Cloutier to issue all his players with two weeks’ notice, a situation which led to the return of 2010-11 captain Kurtis Dulle in defence and, eventually, the departure of Czech-born forward Frantisek Bakrlik, who was quickly snapped up by sister club Coventry Blaze.
Hull again came out empty-handed on their first visit to Murrayfield three weeks ago when the Capitals won 3-1 and Cloutier is looking for his team to get off the mark in the six-game series between the two rivals.
“We are 0+2 against Edinburgh so we want to improve our chances of taking the series’ against them,” said Cloutier.
“I don’t want to take anything away from Edinburgh but our two games against them we just have not been on our game. We need a strong game against them. They are a good side, they play a good system and their players are buying into it.”
Hull make their first visit of the season to Braehead, having lost 3-2 at home to former defenceman Drew Bannister’s team. But Hull have shown they are more than match for their more affluent Scottish rivals, having thumped them 9-4 on home ice back in October.