Loyalty shown by Hull coach Cloutier

HULL Stingrays’ player-coach Sylvain Cloutier remains committed to his struggling team despite a poor start to their Elite League season.

Hull go into tonight’s home game with second-placed Nottingham Panthers with only one win to their name, leaving them in eighth place.

While performances have often been competitive against the top sides – seven of their nine league games have been against top-five opposition – it has not translated into positive results.

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Clearly frustrating for both players and coaching staff, Cloutier insists he is not going to press the panic button and make any drastic changes to his roster.

“I really believe in this group of guys,” said Cloutier. “If we were not being competitive against the top teams and getting beaten by those teams around us then I’d be worried, but we’re not.”

Stingrays will be missing forward Derek Campbell through suspension for tonight’s match as well as tomorrow’s trip to Coventry Blaze. Injuries also deprive Cloutier of forwards Ryan Lake and Tristan Harper.

“We’re already going in short-benched this weekend so we have to make sure we stay disciplined because it has cost us too much already,” said Cloutier.

Despite the frustrating start, there is a common belief in the Stingrays’ dressing room that their luck will change.

“We weren’t great when we beat Fife at home but we’ve only really had one bad game this season as far as I can see when we lost 6-0 in Sheffield,” added Cloutier.

“Nottingham is always going to be a tough game and we’re going into it missing some key players so that doesn’t help as we‘re not going to have three full lines which you need against the top teams.

“But it’s going to come, that’s the belief in the dressing room.”

Sunday sees Hull travel to the Skydome Arena looking to avenge the two league defeats suffered at the hands of the club who they share the same ownership with.

Hull went down 6-3 on their last visit to Coventry, but came away thinking ‘what if’ after the game was tied at 3-3 until they conceded two goals in the space of a minute midway through the third period.

The following night, they welcomed their ‘sister’ club into Hull Arena and felt unlucky only to emerge with a point after losing out 3-2 in overtime,

Twitter: @philarra