Positive outcome hoped for over Hull ice deal

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THE future of Hull Stingrays is unlikely to be resolved until next week, according to potential new co-owner Nic Gough.

Gough and Bobby McEwan, his business partner in a bid to take over the Elite League club, met with officials from Hull City Council on Wednesday to outline their proposals for how they would use the ice-time contract for Hull Arena, from where they hope to continue running the Stingrays in the 2012-13 season.

At the same time, talks are continuing with the current ownership - who also run rivals Coventry Blaze - who are keen to move the club on, just two years after putting together a rescue package to keep top-flight hockey going in the city.

Gough told the Yorkshire Post that the duo’s presentation had gone well and now they simply had to wait for the council to get back to them with a decision - something not expected to occur until the “back end of next week.”

“We had a our meeting with the council, but nothing has been decided,” said Gough.

“We did a presentation to them about our bid and we just have to wait to hear back from them.

“They said it could be the end of next week before they come back to us with their decision. As far as I’m aware we were the only people making a presentation for the contract.

“Nothing has changed with regard to dealing with the current owners. That situation will be determined by us getting the ice-time contract. I feel that we made a good presentation and the meeting went well. It’s just a question of waiting now.”

It’s now more than five weeks since the season ended, one that finished on a high for the Stingrays after they gatecrashed the final four play-off weekend.

It followed a turbulent campaign both on and off the ice, but player-coach Sylvain Cloutier - known to be on board with the Gough-McEwan bid - rallied his team to stun Sheffield Steelers in the first round of the play-offs, before they suffered a heavy semi-final defeat to Nottingham Panthers at the National Ice Centre.

Cloutier and bench coach McEwan warned back then that, as a result of their success, most of their players would be targeted by clubs both in the Elite League and elsewhere.

The first departure was confirmed earlier this week when Dmitri Rodin, an alternate captain and the player voted the club’s best defenceman of last year, had dropped down to join the Sheffield Steeldogs in the English Premier League.

At least one other player is believed to have signed a deal elsewhere - also in the EPL - with a number of others exploring their options.

DEFENCEMAN Matt Stephenson has been confirmed as returning for a second season with Sheffield Steelers.

The 28-year-old had attracted interest from clubs in Europe but has, ultimately, decided to see out the second year of the deal which bright him to South Yorkshire last year.

The former Texas Stars D-man scored seven goals and 30 assists in his first Elite League season. His return leaves player-coach Ryan Finnerty still searching for one more defenceman, having decided to go with a six-man unit.

“Matt is an American league D-man, he knows the league and knows he can be a force in our league,” said Finnerty. “Having him back just makes us better.

“I want to be big, strong and watertight at the back end next season so it will be six we sign.”

Stephenson added: “I enjoyed my first year and think the second one will be even better with the team that we are putting together. I’m sure we all learned a lot from the way last season ended.”


Twitter: @PHarrisonYP