Good start required by Stingrays – Cloutier

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HULL Stingrays’ player-coach Sylvain Cloutier wants to see a repeat show from his team as they enter a critical phase of the season for their Gardiner Conference hopes.

Hull moved second in the northern group of the Elite League after returning home on the back of a 3-1 victory at Edinburgh Capitals. Tonight sees them return to Scotland to take on Fife Flyers, the first of five consecutive games against conference rivals in the next nine days.

On their previous visit to Kirkcaldy, Stingrays couldn’t recover from a poor start, eventually losing out 4-3.

But Cloutier saw how capable his team are of making a positive start in games which have followed long coach journeys at Murrayfield last weekend and wants to see that kind of attitude displayed once again.

“We were not ready to start when we last went up to Fife and it cost us,” said Cloutier.

“But against Edinburgh on Sunday we were focused as soon as we stepped off that bus.”

Hull won’t return home until the early hours of Sunday, ahead of their home encounter against Braehead Clan (6pm), many peoples’ favourites for the Gardiner Conference title before the season started, but who currently sit third.

Sheffield Steelers also head to Scotland this weekend but, unlike Hull, won’t be returning home until the early hours of Monday morning.

A first visit to Braehead awaits Ryan Finnerty’s team tonight before they make a short trip down the M8 for a first meeting of the season against Edinburgh Capitals.

Despite Edinburgh’s role as perennial strugglers in the Elite League – they are currently sitting bottom of the overall table – Steelers’ captain Jonathan Phillips said both games were certain to prove troublesome.

“We haven’t seen Edinburgh yet this year, to us they are an unknown team,” said Phillips. “Their results suggest they are strong at home in their big rink, better than they travel on the road.

“They hammered Braehead 8-3 two weeks ago and that tells you they must be a good side – certainly much-improved on last years.”

In the English Premier League, Sheffield Steeldogs face two away games, first at Milton Keynes Lightning tonight before heading to Telford Tigers tomorrow.