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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Season Preview: – Hull Stingrays

Things looked to be building well for the Stingrays as player/coach Sylvain Cloutier returned for a second season, but then just a couple of weeks before the start of the season, the Stingrays folded when their owners said they didn’t have the money to complete the season. Almost immediately after, the team behind the Coventry Blaze stepped in to save the day, and the Stingrays will start the season (a little later than other teams) with Cloutier again behind the bench, and most of their summer signings appear to be sticking around too.

Christian Boucher takes over as the number one having spent last year with Nijmegen in Holland where he won a championship. Previously he spent a year in the CHL. With only a couple of years pro experience Boucher is a relative unknown quantity, but Hull will be hoping he can reproduce some of that championship winning form from last season. Andrew Jaszczyk returns for a third year as back up netminder.

New comer Trevor Read should provide some offence from the blue line. Read played for Basingstoke Bison a couple of years ago where he put up 30 points in just over 50 games, played last year in France having spent most of his career in the ECHL and CHL. Another new face is American Joshua Mizerek, another Dutch championship winner. Mizerek should also a a little offence from the blue line having averaged just under a point a game for the last three years in Holland. Brit Craig Mitchell is back for another year where Hull will be hoping he can continue to develop.

Along with player/coach Sylvain Cloutier, Konstantin Kalmikov and Jason Silverthorn return to lead the offensive line. Both will be relied upon heavily to contribute on the scoresheet. Andrew Coburn is something of an unknown coming straight out of NCAA. While a top scorer on his team, he isn’t a big scorer and will likely be a depth player for the Stingrays. Lee Mitchell and Lee Esders both return. Mitchell is fast becoming one of the better British players in the league having shown improvement every year since joining Hull five years ago. Last year he scored 35 points in 44 games including 14 goales.  Hull will be hoping he continues to progress in the same way this season. Esders provides the team with a decent third liner having scored 18 points in each of his last two seasons. They are joined by returning youngsters Matt Davies and Ben Lowe.

At time of writing, not all the above players were confirmed as still signed for the Stingrays following their temporary ceasing of operations, and assuming they do all start the season the Stingrays still have a few roster spots to fill after some of their summer signings understandably moved on to other teams. So far they look solid if unspectacular. Where they are likely to sit in the league will depend on their last few signings. As things stand they look like they should be competitive, and should avoid the wooden spoon they won last year.

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