Cloutier looking for suitable response at Panthers

SYLVAIN CLOUTIER is hoping for a positive response from his Hull Stingrays team when they take on Elite League title hopefuls Nottingham Panthers on Tuesday night.

The 36-year-old player-coach was far from pleased following two defeats to Cardiff Devils at the weekend, particularly the 4-2 reverse at home in the league.

That followed a 7-4 defeat in South Wales on Saturday night in the Challenge Cup and tonight's trip to the National Ice Centre will prove equally as difficult, given that second-placed Panthers are unbeaten in six league games.

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Cloutier, who is hoping to temporarily add two British players to his roster for tonight's game, said: "I felt we took too much time off on Sunday night against Cardiff and by the time we responded it was too late.

"I can't accept any kind of lack of effort from any of the players and hopefully they have got the message – we have to produce for the whole 60 minutes.

"We've got to be strong defensively at Nottingham because they are a good all-round team – particularly on the offence."

Nottingham won 3-2 at Hull two weeks ago in the only previous meeting between the sides this season.

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Lee Esders - who sustained knee ligament damage in the 5-4 overtime loss to Belfast on October 26 - could make a surprise return to action at the NIC after further examination revealed his injury was not as bad as first thought.

Cloutier added: "They had another look at the injury and decided it wasn't as bad as they first thought.

"It will be great to have Lee back - he gets up and down that wing and does a great job for us on our third line."

Hull were handed another boost earlier than expected at the weekend when forward and assistant captain lee Mitchell returned from a knee injury to score in the home defeat to Cardiff Devils.

Mitchell said: "I am a little bit sore but not as bad as I thought I would be. I have only been out for a couple of weeks but I was pretty pleased with how it went."