It’s been a turbulent summer for Guelph Storm graduate, Sylvain Cloutier. As player/coach with the Hull Stingrays, things seemed all set heading into the 2010-11 season when the bottom fell out. The owners couldn’t carry the team and the Stingrays were no more.
But wait! All was not lost. New ownership jumped in almost immediately and Hull will field a team for the upcoming season. Some players were lost in the shuffle but Sylvain remains and has his work cut out for him.
Sylvain Cloutier played three seasons in the Ontario Hockey League from 1991-92 to 1993-94, all with the Guelph Storm. His 35 goals in his rookie season stands as a Storm record for first year players. His 71 assists and 116 points in his final season when he captained the Storm are team single season records for a left winger. Cloutier is seventh on Guelph’s all-time list for goals scored and assists. He is tied for sixth when it comes to Storm all-time points. In his final season in the Ontario Hockey League, Cloutier finished tied for ninth in league scoring.
He was drafted in the third round of the 1992 NHL draft, 70th overall by the Detroit Red Wings. Sylvain played four seasons in the American Hockey League with Detroit’s affiliate, the Adirondack Red Wings. It wasn’t until 1998-99, after shifting to the Chicago Black Hawks system, that Cloutier got a taste of the NHL, appearing in seven games with the Hawks. This would prove to be the extent of his NHL career.
Cloutier split his time between the AHL and the United Hockey League until the start of the 2006-07 season. He made the jump to European hockey, playing for the Coventry Blaze of Great Britain’s Elite Ice Hockey League. He played two seasons with the Blaze and was better than a point per game player. In each of his two seasons with Coventry, the team won the EIHL championship.
He took time off from playing the game during the 2008-09 season to coach. His stint behind the bench with the Corpus Christi IceRayz of the Central Hockey League lasted 50 games and ended in February of 2009.
Sylvain returned to the EIHL this past season, this time as a player and a coach for the Hull Stingrays. The team finished last among the eight teams in the league with just 43 points in 56 regular season games.
Because of the ownership change, the Hull Stingrays official website is still a work in progress. It can be found here.
Check out the following video of highlights from a game between Hull and the Belfast Giants. For North American fans, it’s a great intro to the EIHL game. OHL fans will notice a few familiar names other than Sylvain Cloutier, including Sean McMorrow, George Halkidis and Jeff Szwez. At 1:08 of the video, Cloutier walks away from a fight with ‘The Sheriff’ McMorrow – which is probably a very good idea. At 3:40, he leaves with an injury as a result of a high stick. Cloutier is #83 for the dark jerseys.
Other than what looks to be a small ice surface and a smaller seating area than the Ontario Hockey League, the game itself looks to be pretty fast and exciting. The game is decided in a shootout – you’ll have to watch to see who wins…