Rivals Clan lie in wait for Stingrays

HULL STINGRAYS' player-coach Sylvain Cloutier admits his team will have to be on top of their game if they are take anything from Saturday night's visit to in-form Braehead Clan.

Hull head to Scotland looking to further close the gap on sixth-placed Braehead, who have won their last four games including wins against title challengers Belfast and Nottingham.

Hull's only previous trip to the Braehead Arena came in their opening Elite League game back in October when they succumbed 6-2, but the Stingrays have beaten Bruce Richardson's newcomers twice on home ice since then.

Going into the game, Hull are eight points adrift of the Clan but with six games in hand.

"Our aim for a long time is to make sure that we put some distance between ourselves and the teams below us as well as beating Braehead to sixth spot," said Cloutier, whose team welcome Nottingham Panthers to Hull Arena on Sunday when former Stingrays coach Rick Strachan - now bench coach for the Panthers - will be making his first return to the venue since leaving the club by mutual consent 20 months ago.

"It's a very big game in Braehead for us, we're leading our series against them and we need to make sure that continues," adxded Cloutier.

"Braehead are a good side and have been on a good run. We have had some really close games with them this year and this one will be just as tough."

Sheffield Steelers also travel to Scotland this weekend, heading to Murrayfield on Sunday to take on a severely depleted Edinburgh Capitals.

Steelers will be looking for a fifth win of the season over the Capitals, who have seen five players leave the club in the last fortnight.

Player-coach Ben Simon will be keen for his third-placed side to go into Wednesday night's pivotal game against title rivals Cardiff Devils at Sheffield Arena by extending their win streak to seven games.

Nottingham edged closer to the Steelers in the Elite Leaqgue table on Friday night, picking up a point after going down 4-3 on a shootout to Belfast.

The result saw the fourth-placed Panthers move to within two points of Sheffield, although the East Midlands club have played two games more.

The NIC result enabled Belfast to increase their advantage at the top of the table to three points over second-placed Cardiff, although the Devils - currently on a record-breaking 17-game winning streak - have played five games less.

The Steelers are two points further back from Cardiff - who travel to Nottingham on Saturday night - having played the same number of games as Gerad Adams's in-form team.

FORMER Hull and Belfast defenceman David Phillips's career has taken another twist after he was signed by the AHL's Lake Erie Monsters.

Phillips, who became the first British-trained player to play in North America's second tier last season when he was snapped up by the Rockford IceHogs, recently dropped down to the East Coast league after being released by the Chicago Wolves, who he signed for in the summer.

But the 23-year-old's time with ECHL outfit Toledo Walleye has been cut short after the Monsters pounced to sign him on a professional try-out deal, which is designed to last for 25 games, although he could be released before that number.