Stingrays left empty-handed after pushing leaders close again

SYLVAIN CLOUTIER'S wait to get the better of former club Coventry Blaze must continue after Hull Stingrays suffered two defeats at the hands of the Elite League leaders.

The 35-year-old player-coach spent two successful seasons under head coach Paul Thompson in the West Midlands leaving in 2008 to return to North America to begin his coaching career.

His first season in charge at Hull has been, at times, torrid but games against his former club have - apart from one 5-0 drubbing at home - always been close affairs.

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It was no different this weekend although, yet again, Cloutier must wait before putting one over his former coach as Coventry made it six wins from six against Hull.

The East Yorkshire club remain rooted to the bottom of the table after their latest setbacks but almost producing a stunning comeback on home ice on Saturday before going down 5-4.

They followed up that narrow defeat with a 5-3 reverse in Coventry on Sunday night when the hosts secured victory with two late goals.

Joe Henry put Blaze into an early lead on 3.01 at the Skydome, before Stingrays responded with strikes from Curtis Huppe, at 4.06 and George Halkidis, just over two minutes later.

The first period ended on level terms, however, when Adam Calder levelled on the powerplay at 13.24.

Lee Esders restored Stingrays' lead when short-handed at 29.08 before Luke Fulghum tied the scores once again in the 37th minute and that was how it stayed until two goals in 29 seconds - the first from Danny Stewart at 52.29, followed by another strike from Fulghum - sealed two more points for Thompson's side.

On Saturday, all appeared lost before the end of the first period before Stingrays stunned Coventry with a stirring fightback.

Goals from Dan Carlson, Russell Cowley, Luke Fulghum and Calder had Coventry 4-0 up inside 15 minutes prompting player-coach Cloutier – a former Blaze captain – to replace Swedish netminder Tommy Sandahl, who had leaked four goals from only nine shots, with Andrew Jaszczyk.

Fulghum made it 5-0 early in the second period before Stingrays finally remembered why they had turned up and began to claw their way back into the game.

In-form Jason Silverthorn scored Stingrays' first at 22.03 with his 10th of the season and then, on a 5-on-3 powerplay, Huppe made it 5-2 at 28.06.

The home revival continued when Lee Mitchell scored at 30.52 and, after Shaun Thompson grabbedc his first goal of the campaign at 51.32 on the powerplay, Blaze were rocking, although they somehow managed to hold on for both points.