Squires on target to send Stingrays into last eight

SHEFFIELD-born forward Tom Squires ended a hectic day in the best possible way by scoring the game-winning goal to earn Hull Stingrays a place in the Challenge Cup quarter-finals.

The 21-year-old only signed for Hull on a two-way deal with English Premier League outfit Sheffield Steeldogs on Thursday morning, but was in the right place later that night to score the all-important fourth goal on his debut to earn the East Yorkshire club a memorable 4-3 win at Cardiff Devils.

It means Hull have exceeded the expectations of most people and now join Group B rivals Sheffield Steelers, Coventry Blaze and Nottingham Panthers in the last eight, at the expense of the Devils.

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“I was really happy with the goal,” said Squires, who in the summer left Sheffield Steelers after 18 months to drop back down to neighbouring Steeldogs. “I have been going through a dry spell so hopefully I can now turn it around.

“It should be every young British guy’s ambition to play in the Elite League. Hopefully, I will get more chances with the Stingrays.”

Squires’s goal came in the 25th minute to put the visitors into a 4-0 lead. Jason Silverthorn struck first for Hull at 6.48, Jereme Tendler doubled the lead three minutes later before Cale Tanaka made it 3-0 at 18.35.

Nearly four minutes after Squires’s strike the comeback began from Cardiff when Chris Blight found a way past Ben Bowns on the powerplay.

Devils’ player-coach Gerad Adams made it 4-2 at 31.30, again on the powerplay,, ensuring their was plenty to play for in the final period. Although the prolific Mac Faulkner made use of another man-advantage situation to make it a one-goal game at 46.38, Stingrays hung on for a first road win of the season and those two decisive points.

“We certainly did it the hard way,“ said Hull player-coach Sylvain Cloutier.

“We should have finished the game off a lot earlier but we took our foot of the gas and that was disappointing.

“Give Cardiff credit, though, they kept battling and we kept giving them powerplays and they took advantage. They have a good powerplay unit.

“But one of our goals at the start of the season was to make the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup and we have done that. It is a massive accomplishment for the club and every year we seem to be doing something.”

While Devils fans will have been disappointed to witness their team’s failure to progress in the competition, that will have been tempered by the pre-game announcement that they too will now be getting their very own NHL import.

Paul Bissonnette of the Phoenix Coyotes - almost as famous for his use of Twitter as for his on-ice actions - is the latest player to make the switch to the UK from the world’s top league.

He joins Tom Sestito (Steelers), Anthony Stewart (Nottingham), Drew Miller (Braehead) and Coventry’s Matt Beleskey, who have all arrived in the past five weeks as a result of the lockout currently being enforced by the league and owners in their pay dispute with players.