Cloutier calls on Hull to ‘bury their chances’

PLAYER-COACH Sylvain Cloutier wants to make life uncomfortable for Dundee Stars’ netminder Dan Bakala when his Hull Stingrays team host their Gardiner Conference rivals tonight.

The 25-year-old goalie, from Calgary, has been a revelation since being signed by Jeff Hutchins in the summer and, until they were replaced by Belfast Giants on Thursday night, more or less led his side to the top of the table – including two one-goal victories over Stingrays two weeks ago when he faced 91 shots over the weekend.

That weekend was partly overshadowed by Derek Campbell’s match penalty incurred in the 2-1 defeat in Hull for the home side, which resulted in his 47-game ban for a series of offences.

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Dundee then won 3-2 the following night in Tayside to extend Hull’s losing streak to seven games, although Cloutier’s team brought that to an end with a superb 4-1 victory at Fife Flyers last weekend.

A 6-4 Challenge Cup defeat followed against Nottingham Panthers on Sunday – almost certainly ending Hull’s hopes of reaching the knockout phase – but it is in the Conference that their main priorities lie.

“Bakala is a good goalie and he has won Dundee a lot of games,” said Cloutier. “He faced more than 90 shots against us and kept them in the games. We need to find a way to beat him.

“He does not give up and quit on anything. You are making shots and you think he is not there and then he will jump back at you.

“It is a big home game for us and hopefully we will have a big crowd behind us and we can get another massive conference win.”

Stingrays welcome back assistant captain Jeff Smith after he sat out last Sunday’s defeat to Nottingham through suspension.

Sheffield Steelers will look to build on last Sunday’s 6-3 home win over misfiring Cardiff Devils when they head to Fife tonight.

The big draw of the weekend for Doug Christiansen’s men, however, will be tomorrow’s home match with Belfast as they look to avenge last weekend’s 4-2 defeat in Northern Ireland on their head coach’s first return to his former club.