Physical intensity required from Hull to provide overdue lift

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NETMINDER Christian Boucher says Hull Stingrays need to get ‘up close and physical’ if they are to break their duck in Dundee on Sunday night.

Since the arrival of the Dundee Stars in the Elite League last year, Hull – with only one win in 10 league games so far this season – have returned from all four of their visits to Tayside having drawn a blank, the closest to success being two weeks ago when they went down 3-1.

In their three visits last season, Sylvain Cloutier’s team conceded 18 goals, the worst defensive performance of any team except for financially-crippled Edinburgh Capitals.

But Boucher, now in his second season with Hull, believes the East Yorkshire club can end their wait for success in Dundee – who lost 7-1 in Belfast last night – if they send out a hard-hitting message early on.

“There are various reasons for us having such a poor record up there,” said Boucher. “They’ve played well, whereas we’ve never been at our best and I think there’s also been an element of bad luck.

“But we’ve got to go up there and make sure we are a more physical side – send out a strong message to them in the first 10 minutes and don’t try to play too pretty. I don’t think teams are intimidated by us and that has to change.

“Nobody likes playing against teams that come out hard. But we also have to find the balance and make sure we still do the other things right.”

With Edinburgh due at Hull Arena on Saturday night, many people are predicting a comfortable two points for Cloutier’s team but the player-coach said his players needed to produce the same intensity levels displayed in recent weeks against the likes of Belfast and Nottingham where they were unlucky to be edged out by the odd goal on three separate occasions.

Last year Edinburgh - who will boast former Hull defenceman Josef Sladok in their ranks - suffered terrible financial problems which saw them forced to release the vast majority of their imports, leaving them to limp through until the end of the season.

It meant the Scottish club were unable to put out a competitive team and were regularly beaten by 12 or more goals, a situation which only served to threaten the league’s credibility.

This time, however, GM Scott Neill seems to have put together a more competitive roster, while still operating on a small budget. They come into Hull one point behind their hosts and having won two of their last three games, both against local rivals and league newcomers Fife Flyers. They were beaten 7-3 by Dundee in the Challenge Cup last Sunday.

“It’s not like last year with Edinburgh, they’ve got some pretty good imports,” said Cloutier, whose team now face a busy period of five games in nine days.

“There’s no danger of our guys taking anything for granted against Edinburgh. These are the kind of games we need to be winning. Guys are going to be playing for their jobs this weekend.”

Twitter: @philarra