Home life proving tough for Stingrays

Sheffield Steelers' forward Jason Hewitt. Picture: Dean Woolley.
Sheffield Steelers' forward Jason Hewitt. Picture: Dean Woolley.
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OMAR PACHA is hoping time away from ‘home’ will help his Hull Stingrays team turn a corner and get back to basics.

Five times the East Yorkshire club have played at the Hull Arena this season – five times they have lost, the latest being a 5-2 defeat to defending Gardiner Conference champions Dundee Stars despite twice being ahead.

Tonight sees Hull visit the Elite League’s form team Sheffield Steelers (7.30pm) in the Challenge Cup. It is the first meeting between the Yorkshire rivals, but one player-coach Pacha is looking forward to.

“It will probably help that we are not at home,” said Pacha, still missing from action with a broken arm. “There will be less pressure on us and it will be interesting to see how the guys react to Sunday. It will be good for us to face a team like Sheffield and try to get back to a more simple kind of hockey.

“Maybe we need to go back to basics and play a more simple game overall – spend less energy forcing plays as that is what we have done in our games at home recently.”

While the lack of wins at home was an obvious concern for Pacha - who hopes to be back in action for the home game against Edinburgh Capitals on October 18 – the rookie player-coach has seen enough positives to give him the belief his players can turnaround their form.

“We have played well at home and we could probably have won all five games, but we are perhaps forcing it too much at times,” he added.

“If you look at our home games I don’t think you can say we deserved to lose any of them. We have to perhaps improve our hockey IQ and learn from our mistakes and that’s why I think Wednesday will be a good challenge.

“We perhaps have to be a bit smarter, but it is a learning curve for us all, including myself. There are a lot of positives in terms of the team we have built here.

“I think I’m getting better all the time as a coach and each game we play is priceless in terms of what I’m picking up in terms of experience and knowledge.”

Steelers’ forward Jason Hewitt said the home team – who went top of Group B following a 4-2 win over Nottingham Panthers at the Motorpoint Arena on Saturday night – would not be taking Wednesday night’s visitors lightly.

“None of us have seen Hull this year,” he said. “We don’t know much about their new players so we must be on guard and ready for anything and everything they throw at us.”

Hewitt admitted the fact that the Steelers had not lifted the Challenge Cup trophy in the Elite League era rankled with the players, particularly those who had been at the club for a number of years, including himself.

“We are a focused group that know the importance of every game,” he added.

“We want to finish top of our cup group, this is a difficult group so we will get confidence and build from a top place finish if we can achieve it.”

British forward Luke Ferrara, on a two-way deal with the EPL’s Peterborough Phantoms, will once again line-up for the Steelers following his debut for the play-off champions in Saturday’s win over Nottingham.