Sunday, 27 February 2011

Giants power to win over Stingrays

Excel Hull Stingrays 2-5 Belfast Giants

The Excel Hull Stingrays tonight battled hard against Elite League title contenders the Belfast Giants but - having leveled the scores at 2-2 midway through the second - eventually fell to an impressive Northern Irish outfit by five goals to two.

As you would expect from a side chasing the league title, the Giants started the game with real intensity in the offensive zone and they peppered the Rays  with 17 shots in the first period, thanks in part to their four powerplay opportunities.

Nevertheless, despite the visitors dominating the early stages it was the Stingrays that managed to craft the first real clear cut chance of the game as British netminder Stephen Murphy denied defenceman Drew Bannister twice within seconds to keep the scores level.

Still, the Giants again pushed forward but again the Rays created another chance as forward Konstantin Kalmikov looked to add to his goal in Sheffield last night with a big shot that squeaked through Murphy's pads only to be cleared agonisingly off the line.

After firing the best part of 17 shots on the Rays goal, Doug Christiansen's side then took a deserved lead on 12.21 as captain Josh Prudden found a way to force the puck home on the Giants third powerplay attempt of the game.

They doubled that lead again on the powerplay nearly five minutes into the second as Brandon Benedict perfectly predicted a rebound from Christian Boucher to put the puck home.

Things could have potentially been a lot worse for the Stingrays had Mike Hoffman put away a penalty shot awarded for being brought down on a breakaway, however, the sizeable Canadian's backhanded shot was denied one-on-one by a blocker save from Boucher.

The home side seemed to gain momentum from the missed opportunity and they opened their account for the nigh just 15 seconds later as a typical quick release wristshot from Kalmikov found its way home for the Ukrainian's second goal in two games.

Two successive high stick penalties awarded against the Giants then allowed the Stingrays to record their third powerplay goal in two games with Trevor Read on hand to level the scores at the back post of Murphy's goal.

The Giants quickly got themselves back in the lead however, as Dan Welch took advantage of the Rays playing four forwards on the powerplay to net a goal less than two minutes after the home team had leveled for the first time.

That goal all but killed the Stingrays off and further third period goals from Jon Gleed - who similarly to Prudden, scrappily poked the puck home - and Hoffman, who atoned for his earlier penalty shot miss by using his size to net a fine individual effort, deservedly sealed the win in favour of the hard working title chasers.

The two third period goals perhaps gave the scoreline an unfair slant in favour of the Giants, however, few in attendance could argue with the result going the way of Christiansen's side, particularly after they flew out of the gates to fire 17 first period shots on the Rays net with just four going the other way on Murphy.

Although the defeat  is the Stingrays third in a row at the Hull Arena, Saturday's 4-3 win over Sheffield eases the pain of the loss and stems the run of defeats. Given last night's exploits, a defeat, particularly against the Giants, who are currently playing very well, potentially on their way to a league title, is nothing to worry about. Perhaps more worrying is that it isn't beyond the realms of possibility that the Stingrays will face the Northern Irish side in the first round of the EIHL playoffs.

The Stingrays, who lost Jereme Tendler and Ben Lowe to possibly injuries tonight, must now regroup for possibly the toughest spell of the season as they face four games in six days starting on Tuesday in Cardiff. From there Cloutier's side visit Belfast on Thursday and Coventry on Saturday before returning home on Sunday to take on a playoff chasing Newcastle side that narrowed the gap between themselves in ninth and Dundee in eighth last night with a win over the Stars.

Rays Rating

FBB Three Stars
1- Konstantin Kalmikov (1+0)
2- Christian Boucher (38 shots, 5 goals against)
3- Kurtis Dulle (0+0)

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Stingrays shock Steelers for second ever win in Sheffield and playoff qualification

Sheffield 3-4 Excel Hull Stingrays

The Excel Hull Stingrays tonight toppled Elite League leaders the Sheffield Steelers at the Motorpoint Arena in Sheffield for just the second ever time, edging the South Yorkshire outfit by four goals to three to confirm their qualification for the EIHL Playoff Quarter Finals.

Having already beaten the Stingrays three times Ice Sheffield this season, this matchup was the first between the sides at the Arena, and coming off the back of such a tightly fought pointless weekend last week Sylvain Cloutier's side were clearly ready to take on a Sheffield team that only narrowly beat Dundee on Thursday.

Nevertheless, it was Ben Simon's side that took control of the game early on after a very slow start from the visitors, who saw Aivars Gaisins binned early on for hooking having been caught out of position. That penalty allowed the Steelers to open the scoring on the man advantage as Jeff Legue clinically fired past Christian Boucher for a deserved lead having caught the Stingrays flat footed from the off.

It was a similar story right throughout a penalty strewn first period that the Steelers largely controlled, however, on 6.28 a Derek Campbell elbow on Ryan Lake handed the league's worst powerplay a chance to level to scores.

Despite a fairly disjointed first attempt, the Stingrays managed to equal on that first powerplay, netting thanks through a Lee Mitchell rebound attempt, much to the delight of the Scot - who put in a man of the match performance on his first full 60 minute return to lineup.

Naturally in a special team's dominated period the Stingrays only further chance came shorthanded as Mitchell and Finn Matti Uusivirta scrapped their way down the ice to create a big chance before Jereme Tendler and Andrew Coburn combined two-on-one to force a big save from Steelers keeper Ervins Mustukovs.

The league leading Steelers then hit the post through Tom Squires before player-coach Ben Simon put them ahead with another powerplay goal after 15 minutes, cooling slotting the puck under and past Boucher on a breakaway to give his side the lead heading into the middle stanza.

More goals on the special teams followed as first Legue capitalised on a slip from Boucher to net his second 4-on-4 after 4.20, before Drew Bannister got the Stingrays back into the game with a wristshot from the point on the same 4-on-4 less than a minute later.

However, Boucher would atone for that minor error late in the second, denying the Steelers on two absolutely crucial breakaway attempts to keep his side in the game heading into the final twenty.

Those two saves would prove massive 49 seconds into the third as Mitchell leveled the scores with his second of the game and the first 5-on-5 goal of the game on a rebound created after Jason Silverthorn - who put in a good performance after recent criticism of his offensive form - aggressively drove at the Steelers net.

The Stingrays were then presented with another chance shorthanded later in the game, this time to take the lead, as blueliner Trevor Read found himself in the unfamiliar breakaway position. However, after being caught by the last Steelers defenceman, support arrived to create a 3-on-1 which Mustukovs brilliantly saved.

In a fairly frantic, end-to-end third period, Ukrainian forward Konstantin Kalmikov then struck a fatal blow to the Steelers, smashing home a one-timer like the Kalmikov of old on a powerplay given to the Stingrays after a dangerous retaliatory slash from Rod Sarich on Lee Esders.

Miraculously, the goal - which gave the Stingrays a massive lead with less than ten minutes to play - was the Stingrays second powerplay marker in just three attempts, giving their much publicised poor powerplay unit a much needed boost as it ultimately struck to give the club just their second ever win in Sheffield over the Steelers.

The win, confirmed despite a late powerplay and a despite the Steelers pulling Mustukovs, guarantees the Stingrays qualification for the Elite League playoff quarter finals for the second successive season, although it is the first time they will have qualified outright after last seasons qualification was guaranteed from the outset.

Cloutier's bouyant side now return home to face fellow title contenders the Belfast Giants at the Hull Arena tomorrow night.

Rays Rating

FBB Man of the Match
Lee Mitchell (2+1)

Sunday, 20 February 2011

Advantage Clan as Rays lose sixth place battle

Excel Hull Stingrays 2-3 Braehead Clan

The Excel Hull Stingrays were tonight handed a costly and painful defeat by the Braehead Clan in their battle to claim the Scottish sides sixth place, losing 3-2 despite firing 54 shots on Clan netminder JF Perras.

With sixth place at stake the Stingrays made their intentions know early on, dominating the Clan from the opening face-off for the whole of the first 14 minutes and the vast majority of the first twenty, peppering Perras with an astonishing 29 shots in the first period but coming away with nothing to show for their vast offensive efforts.

Typically, the Clan - who fired just ten shots on Christian Boucher at the other end - capitalised on their only chance of the period with a powerplay marker from Kyle Bruce finding its way home after a juicy rebound to give them a lead against the run of play.

Somehow, after a dominating the first period, the Stingrays trailed, however, the tables were turned early in the middle period as Lee Esders finally beat Perras nearside this time after the Clan had got off to the better start.

Despite the equaliser the Scots continued to control the middle period as the Stingrays tired following their fruitless first period efforts.

Unlike the Rays, the visitors made their control count with two goals, the first a powerplay goal from Dominic Noel - who similarly to Bruce fired home on a juicy rebound - and the second a Jordan Krestanovich marker after he beat Matti Uusivirta at the face-off circle and outmuscled the Finn to fire five hole past Boucher to give the Clan a deserved two goal, 3-1 lead going into the third.

After lacking intensity in the middle session, the Stingrays upped their game in the final period in an effort to get a vital win from the game and captain Kurtis Dulle was able to pull one back for the hosts, beating Perras with nine minutes remaining to record his sides only powerplay goal in 14 attempts this weekend.

That was as close as the Stingrays would come though, despite calling a time-out and pulling Boucher for the extra outskater, as the Clan left Hull Arena with a crucial first ever victory in East Yorkshire and second over the Stingrays in five outings this season.

The loss is a hammer blow to Sylvain Cloutier's hopes of overtaking Braehead in sixth place with Bruce Richardson's team now in fifth one point ahead of Coventry in sixth and 11 points ahead of the Rays - who have now played just two fewer games - with the two teams meeting just once more this season on March 15 in Scotland.

Next weekend the Rays face a massive task against two of the league's top three sides, travelling to league leaders Sheffield on Saturday before returning to face Belfast at the Hull Arena on Sunday, knowing they haven't beaten at top four side since the middle of December.

Rays Rating

FBB Three Stars
1- Kurtis Dulle (1+0)
2- Lee Esders (1+0)
3- Matti Uusivirta (0+0)

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Stingrays frustrated by Blaze

Excel Hull Stingrays 1-2 Coventry Blaze

Frustratingly, the Excel Hull Stingrays tonight came out on the wrong side of a 2-1 scoreline against reigning Elite League champions the Coventry Blaze at the Hull Arena.

Buoyed by the return of brothers Lee and Craig Mitchell, the Stingrays iced a full compliment of players, while the Blaze also neared a full line up with the return defencemen of Jason Robinson and Brian Lee, although they were without import forwards Owen Fussey and Brad Cruickshank, who was suspended after sucker punching Stingrays' Andrew Coburn last weekend.

Thanks to a scrappy opening first few minutes neither side was able to settle down in the early stages, however, energised by a rotating third line consisting of Ryan Lake, Jozef Sladok, Lee Esders and Lee Mitchell, who made an encouraging return to action, the Blaze were put under the first real pressure of the game.

Hits flew in from the mainly British line but the closest they and the Stingrays would come to opening the scoring was from the stick of Lee Esders, who clipped the post with a wristshot that so nearly beat Brett Jaeger for the games opening goal.

In a penalty strewn game Paul Thompson's Blaze opened the scoring through Luke Fulghum on a 5-on-3 as the clinical Canadian easily slotted home a rebound to punish the indisciplined home team for a 1-0 lead.

The Stingrays though had powerplay chances themselves with Jereme Tendler's guilt edged miss nearing the end of the first one many would have expected the 40+ goal scorer to put away. Although they had opportunities the home side generally struggled on the man advantage all game, as they have done all year, failing to convert on nine attempts, and they ended a tight but scrappy first period one goal down.

The second period was much the same as powerplay's dominated much of the play thanks to an performance from referee Michael Hicks that was inconsistent at best.

Still, the Stingrays killed off a 5-on-3 early in the second before British forward Ryan Lake was presented with a great opportunity to get his side on the board, firing wide despite having handed time and space to pick a spot.

That chance was a rarity in a period controlled by the Blaze, and they were rewarded for their play 27 minutes in as Russ Cowley bagged one off the post with Rays defenceman unable to clear the puck off the line behind netminder Christian Boucher and Hicks on the spot to give the goal.

After failing to properly find their feet in the first two periods, having hung on to the Blaze in the second, the Stingrays finally broke out of their shackles in the third firing 19 shots on Jaeger while restricting the visitors to just six shots.

Importantly for their chances in the game, Kurtis Dulle broke Jaeger's shut out 1.40 into the third to give the Stingrays hope of a result, one timing the puck agonisingly past the outstretched Blaze keeper after Konstantin Kalmikov had picked out the Rays captain rushing from the blueline towards the back post.

That goal gave the Stingrays all the momentum for the remainder of the period and provider Kalmikov went on to ping the post three minutes later.

Unfortunately, that would be as close as Sylvain Cloutier's side would come as the Blaze shut down offensively and focused on defensive solidity in the remaining minutes.

There was, however, still time for perhaps the most controversial moment of the game as all-time Blaze top pointscorer Dan Carlson ran straight into Stingrays netminder Boucher, bringing the Canadian crashing down as he played the puck.

Naturally, Boucher's teammate Jason Silverthorn immediately skated in to seek retribution on Carlson, however, after a brief tussle, Carlson was handed just a two minute charging penalty for his actions, much to the dismay of most in attendance.

Combined with Silverthorn's coincidental roughing penalty the Blaze went largely unpenalised for the hit and the Coventry captain was able to return to the ice just two minutes later, just in time to help them complete a tight 2-1 win.

The frustrating and disappointing defeat looks to have cost the Stingrays the small chance of pushing for the fifth place currently occupied by the Blaze and sixth placed Braehead's 15 goal demolition of Edinburgh tonight puts the Stingrays further behind in their chase for sixth. Nevertheless, the Clan - who have beaten the Rays once in four meetings - visit Hull tomorrow night in an absolute must win game for the club if they are indeed to topple their Scottish rivals.

Rays Rating

FBB Three Stars
1- Drew Bannister (0+0)
2- Kurtis Dulle (1+0)
3- Lee Esders (0+0)

Sunday, 13 February 2011

Rays suffer OT loss to Blaze

Coventry Blaze 3-2 Excel Hull Stingrays (AOT)

The Excel Hull Stingrays tonight narrowly lost out to ownership siblings the Coventry Blaze, twice coming back from a goal down before eventually falling in overtime.

Goals from Brits Jonathan Weaver and Aaron Nell put the Blaze 1-0 and then 2-1 ahead but on both occasions an in-form Jereme Tendler was able to level for the Stingrays - who outshot the Blaze 43- 37.

Tendler's double eventually proved enough to give the Rays an invaluable point, however, despite fighting their way back into the game, a powerplay goal from Coventry's Greg Owen 1.37 into overtime handed the fifth placed Blaze the extra point.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

Win ties Stingrays-Stars season series

Excel Hull Stingrays 6-3 Dundee Stars

The Excel Hull Stingrays tonight completed their season series with the seventh placed Dundee Stars, beating the Scottish side 6-3 to level the series at three wins apiece.

In a tame, lifeless first period the Stars netted the games opening goal as player-coach Dan Ceman banged the puck home at Christian Bouchers' back post moments after Jereme Tendler tried and failed to beat the Stars last defenceman for yet another shorthanded attempt.

Tendler's mistake, although a costly one, would not harm the Stingrays thanks in part to their domination of the middle period as the home side took a firm grip of the game firing 22 shots on former netminder Ladislav Kurdna.

Their offensive explosion was not as fruitless as it initially appeared to be however, as Konstantin Kalmikov netted another welcome, if lucky goal, on a rasping shot that pinged off the post onto the back of Kurdna before limping across the line, much to the dismay of the Czech netminder.

The Rays then took a deserved lead 14 minutes in as Tendler made up for his earlier error by wickedly tipping a Trevor Read point shot home.

Despite heavily outshooting the Stars, the Stingrays had just a one goal lead to show for it and the visitors would take advantage of that slender lead just 1.39 into the final twenty as Peter Cartwright forced a puck home after Boucher failed to get to the puck.

Three minutes later a beautiful pass from player-assistant coach Drew Bannister after work down low by Andrew Coburn handed Tendler an almost unmissable opportunity to give his side the lead, which the Canadian duly snatched for his second of the game and 41st of the year.

Nevertheless, player-coach Ceman once again led his side to level the scores, netting on a 5-on-3 powerplay with less than seven minutes remaining.

That goal proved a late turning point in the game though as the Rays bounced back to net their fourth just over two minutes later through Jason Silverthorn, after a brilliant set up from Cloutier, before a screamer of a slapshot from just inside the blueline and then a one timer from Finn Matti Uusivirta - who put in his best outing of the year in a real 60 minute performance - sealed the win in convincing fashion for the home side.

Rays Rating 

FBB Three Stars
1- Drew Bannister (0+1)
2- Jereme Tendler (2+1)
3- Matti Uusivirta (2+0)

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Dulle to go down under this summer

Excel Hull Stingrays captain Kurtis Dulle has today been revealed as a signing for the Sydney Ice Bears of the Australian Ice Hockey League for the 2010 season which runs during the Elite League's off-season this summer.

The 31 year old defenceman will travel to the other side of the world after the Stingrays season has finished in late March or early April depending on how far the Rays make it in the EIHL playoffs. He joins former Stingray defencemen Kevin and Dave Phillips in signing in Oz, after it was announced they were to join AIHL side Adelaide Adrenaline, with more current Elite League players expected to follow before the start of their season in May.

More info HERE

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Steelers depth overcomes weary Stingrays in end-to-end battle

Excel Hull Stingrays 5-7 Sheffield Steelers

The Excel Hull Stingrays again fell short against Yorkshire rivals the Sheffield Steelers tonight, losing out by seven goals to five despite coming back from 3-1 down to lead 4-3.

Without Lee Esders, Craig and Lee Mitchell, Aivars Gaisins and Drew Bannister, the Rays started the game with just two regular blueliners as Jason Silverthorn and Jozef Sladok dropped back to help out remaining defencemen Kurtis Dulle and Trevor Read.

The match pit an understrength Stingrays D against a Sheffield side minus league leading netminder Ervins Mustukovs as they started with backup Geoff Woolhouse for just the second time this season. The battle would ultimately come down to which side could cope better given their deficiencies.

After a very scrappy opening five minutes, the visitors from South Yorkshire got off to the better start, taking advantage of an inexperienced Stingrays third line of Ryan Lake - who otherwise had a brilliant game against his former side - Andy Hirst and Chris Sykes, who iced in his second game on a two-way contract from Sheffield Steeldogs, to score through Tom Squires on an decisive 3-on-2.

Jeff Legue would then double the Steelers lead with a simple finish after the Rays defensive corps failed to pick up the Canadian nearly nine minutes in before Andrew Coburn got the home side on the board with a scrappy but much needed powerplay goal.

Sheffield hit back through Ashley Tait, who clinically finished off the bar after yet another 3-on-2, to extend their lead to 3-1.

However, Sylvain Cloutier then kickstarted his sides comeback, winning a face-off straight to leading scorer Jereme Tendler - who clinically fired home a one-time shot, top shelf breaking the water bottle on the Steelers net and leaving Woolhouse with little chance.

With Steelers defenceman Steve Munn seemingly more interested in taking Dulle out of the game in the corner, the Rays player-coach then levelled the scores 11 seconds later, forcing home for his tenth of the year to end the scores of an eventful first at 3-3.

Much like Sheffield suffered penalty trouble at the end of the first, the Stingrays began the second under the cosh with five penalties in the first six minutes, none of which could be argued with.

Despite losing defenceman Dulle to a ten minute misconduct penalty for his choice words to referee Andy Carson reducing them to just three defencemen with Trevor Read the only regular defenceman, the Stingrays came out of the opening five minutes unscathed and turned the game around for a short while..

Taking the lead for the first and only time in the game, Tendler tipped home his second of the game and 39th of the year on a tame wristshot from Read on a 5-on-3, netting the teams second powerplay marker of the game.

The momentum appeared to be in the Stingrays favour, however, that all changed less than two minutes later as Derek Campbell admirably out muscled Sladok and finished a fine individual effort with a high finish past Christian Boucher to level the scores once again.

With the Stingrays D seemingly all at odds, the Steelers built off the momentum gained from Campbell's goal to regain the lead less than 90 seconds before the end of the second with Neil Clark scoring another agianst the Rays after losing his marker.

The home team had had their moment and two further Sheffield goals from Rod Sarich and Joey Talbot, after an awful blueline-to-blueline pass in the offensive zone from Silverthorn, all but settled the tie in favour of the Steelers and backup Woolhouse.

The Rays weary four man defence was, in the end, no match for the sheer depth the nearly £10,000 a week Steelers possess and, although captain Dulle forced home a late consolation and gave a solid home attendance hope, the game would end 7-5 in favour of the South Yorkshire side.

The loss, yet another that could have potentially gone in their favour, is another kick in the teeth on the Rays mission to beat Braehead to 6th place in the Elite League. That said, fixtures against Dundee at the Hull Arena on Saturday and Coventry in the East Midlands on Sunday, may yet give Cloutier's side a much needed boost.

Rays Rating

FBB Three Stars
1- Ryan Lake (0+0)
2- Sylvain Cloutier (1+1)
3- Jereme Tendler (2+1)

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Tendler and Kalmikov hat-tricks lead Stingrays to Capitals victory

Excel Hull Stingrays 9-2 Edinburgh Capitals

Hat-tricks from an out-of-form Konstantin Kalmikov and in-form Jereme Tendler helped the Excel Hull Stingrays follow up their 6-3 win over a depleted Edinburgh Capitals in Scotland last night with a convincing 9-2 success at the Hull Arena tonight.

As heavy favourites to complete a four point weekend, the sooner the Stingrays got on the board the better, and after dominating the majority of the opening stages Jozef Sladok fed newest signing Andy Hirst for the young Brit to redirect home high over Caps keeper Jens Van Poulke for a 1-0 lead and his first Elite League goal in a very impressive showing.

Tendler then net his first of three after 13 minutes, forcing home after good work from Matti Uusivirta and Andrew Coburn, and Ben Lowe - who put in his most confident performance as a Stingray yet - hit the post before Jeff Hutchins surprisingly got the Caps on the board from an acute angle on one of just four Edinburgh shots in the first.

19 seconds before the end of the first Tendler doubled up, out-muscling the Caps last defenceman to incredibly record his ninth shorthanded goal of the year and his 36th overall, giving the Rays a 3-1 lead heading into the second.

In front of new Belgian netminder Van Poulke, who made all the difference in the first two periods, the Caps played their tightest hockey in the second stanza, holding the Rays to just one goal while bagging a goal of their own.

The Stingrays again came out strongly in the period, looking to kill the game off early, however, it was thanks only to a mix up behind the net between keeper Van Poulke and defenceman that they even scored in the second, as former Capital Jason Silverthorn slotted into an unguarded net 23 seconds in with Van Poulke sprawling to make an unlikely save.

While the home teams powerplay struggled all game, failing to convert on four chances and the Caps wasn't much better, the Scottish side did manage to find the twine with the man advantage, Martin Cingel impressively bulleting home a one timer from a Jeff Hutchins feed after an awful line change from the Rays defensive corps.

With home fans perhaps beginning to worry that the Stingrays would be the first side to fall to the five import Caps in nearly two months, Sylvain Cloutier's side finally found their feet offensively in the final stanza.

Andrew Coburn - who ended up with two goals and seven assists in the two games against Edinburgh this weekend - set the Stingrays on their way 37 seconds in, bursting through the middle of the Scots to fire home five hole and give the home team a 5-2 lead.

Tendler's hat-trick goal quickly followed two minutes later after awesome set up play from man of the moment Coburn. However, the talking moment of the game was yet to follow as experienced Edinburgh forward Jeff Hutchins dangerously lashed out with his stick at Stingrays captain Kurtis Dulle following a fair and legal check on his fellow Canadian.

Although Hutchins retaliation for the check didn't connect, or at least didn't harm Dulle, enforcer Sladok took it upon himself to step up and protect his team mate, even with the scores as they were at 6-2, heavily in favour of the Stingrays.

Naturally, Hutchins rejected the immediate invitation to drop the gloves although after the Slovakians ten minute unsportsmanlike penalty expired the pair did eventually fight, shadow boxing for what must have been nearly 30 seconds before Sladok took the decision in a disappointing five second, one punch bout.

The fight seemed to only encourage the Stingrays to stick the fork in the already well done bottom side as Kalmikov, decimated by a lack of confidence so far this season, picked up the baton and ran with it, netting a natural hat-trick in eight minutes and 42 seconds to round the score off at 9-2.

The Stingrays have historically struggled to put the puck away in any game they have been obvious favourites in, so a four point weekend, given their record and previous five game losing streak, is a very welcome outcome for Cloutier.

Edinburgh are a much improved, albeit still depleted outfit and the addition of netminder Van Poulke has made a big difference, even if they did still lose out and even if the difference on the scoreboard since their last visit is just one goal.

Cloutier's side face the Sheffield Steelers for the third time in two weeks and final time this season on Wednesday at Hull Arena, with the South Yorkshire side comfortably five-one up in the series, before taking on Dundee next Saturday and Coventry in the East Midlands on Sunday.

Rays Rating

FBB Three Stars
1- Andy Hirst (1+0)
2- Jereme Tendler (3+2)
3- Konstantin Kalmikov (3+0)

Saturday, 5 February 2011

Rays end five game losing streak with win over Caps

Edinburgh Capitals 3-6 Excel Hull Stingrays

The Excel Hull Stingrays tonight ended their five game losing streak by beating a 13 man Edinburgh Capitals side 6-3 having firing 61 shots on the Scottish sides new Belgian netminder Jens Van Poulke.

Matti Uusivirta recorded the Rays first goal 6.18 in after the Caps had taken a surprise lead through Scott McKenzie little more than five minutes in.

Goals from Jereme Tendler, his 34th of the year, and Ben Lowe - who netted just his second professional goal - then gave the Stingrays a 3-1 lead in the second before the Caps struck back through Martin Cingel's 100th EIHL goal 2.35 into the third.

Uusivirta then added his second of the game to restore the two goal lead prior to Andrew Coburn adding a goal to the four assists he had recorded earlier in the night.

Scott McKenzie would then bag a consolation goal for Edinburgh with less than five and half minutes remaining but the Rays comfortably closed out the game to claim a 6-3 win, their first two point return in nearly three weeks.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Coburn nets second FBB Player of the Month award

24 year old rookie forward Andrew Coburn has become the first Excel Hull Stingrays player to claim the F Block Blog Player of the Month award twice, after adding the January's title to his earlier November award.

The Ontario native was once again the Rays standout player in an outstanding month personally, putting in man of the match performances against Nottingham on the 9th, Dundee on the 12th and Sheffield on the final weekend of the month.

He fairly comfortably beat defenceman Drew Bannister - who has now finished as second star in both months he has spent in Hull - by 25 points with the assistant coach having claimed a first star against Cardiff on the 23rd, second star against Sheffield on the 30th and third star against Nottingham on the 9th.

British forward Lee Esders - who was last night named Hull and East Yorkshire 2010 Sports Personality of the Year beating the likes of Hull City's Nick Barmby - ended the month in third having bagged a first star in the emphatic win over Edinburgh on the 16th.

On the same night Esders received his award, Stingrays captain Kurtis Dulle was given a special award for his tireless work within the community and local schools in an event held at the KC Stadium.

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Mustukovs records 11th shutout as Rays go down

Sheffield Steelers 3-0 Excel Hull Stingrays

Sheffield Steelers netminder Ervins Mustukovs recorded his 11th shut out of the year, and second against the Stingrays at Ice Sheffield, and Jason Hewitt scored his third and fourth goals in two games against Sylvain Cloutier's side as the South Yorkshire side blanked the Rays 3-0 tonight.

Hewitt - who netted his previous double against the club less than four days earlier - opened the scoring for the Steelers 13 minutes in and, in a tightly fought game, didn't add to his tally until six minutes into the third, when he doubled their lead.

The Rays fired 27 shots on Latvian Mustukovs but couldn't find a way past the league's standout netminder with Tom Squires on hand to fire home an empty net goal little more than 20 seconds remaining, condemning the Stingrays to their fifth consecutive defeat.

Match Highlights: Excel Hull Stingrays 3-4 Sheffield Steelers