Shoot-out free trip would suit Stingrays

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SYLVAIN Cloutier admits there is no magic formula for Hull Stingrays ending their shoot-out misery in the Elite League this season.

Seven times the East Yorkshire club have gone to penalty shots this season; seven times they have ended up on the losing side.

The most frustrating part for Cloutier is the knowledge that those ‘lost’ points would currently be enough to put them joint-top of the Gardiner Conference, as well as seventh spot in the overall Elite League table.

Hull spend this weekend on the road in Scotland, first taking on conference leaders Braehead Clan before heading east to take on Edinburgh Capitals. And if a shoot-out is required to settle either match, player-coach Cloutier says his team will just have to hope their luck finally changes.

“It’s hard to believe what’s happened to us in shoot-outs this season,” said Cloutier. “You can practice as much as you want, but you can’t replicate what goes on in a game situation.

“We practice penalty shots but, when it comes down to it, it’s a 50-50 situation. There’s a couple where bounces just haven’t gone our way, but we’ll just have to keep plugging away at it as and when they come along.”

Cloutier will find himself up against a new opponent in Braehead tonight with the hosts now playing under a new coach.

Paul Gardner took over as head coach on Wednesday after player-coach Jordan Krestanovich decided to leave. Gardner played more than 400 games in the NHL before spending five years as assistant coach with the Nashville Predators. He has also coached in the AHL, Russia and Germany.

“We can’t worry about what’s gone on at Braehead,” added Cloutier. “We just have to concentrate on getting ourselves ready for what is a big weekend for us.”