HULL STINGRAYS’ player-coach Omar Pacha is calling for one last mammoth effort from his injury-hit team to seal an Elite League play-off spot.
A win of any description tonight against Coventry Blaze will ensure second-bottom Edinburgh Capitals can’t catch Stingrays – even if the Scottish club secure an unlikely victory at championship-chasing Cardiff Devils tonight.
Despite only picking up a point at the weekend, losing 3-2 after a shoot-out at Coventry 24 hours after being pipped 5-4 on home ice by Cardiff, Pacha has nothing but admiration for his players, who are operating in energy-sapping conditions, playing both games with only 11 out-skaters and giving young British players Tom Ralph and Sam Towner some unaccustomed extended ice time.
Pacha has long insisted that he didn’t want his team’s play-off bid to go to the final weekend of the regular season, with trips to title hopefuls Braehead Clan and sixth-placed Coventry scheduled.
Tonight’s final home game of the campaign – aside from any play-off match-up – therefore offers Hull their best chance of ensuring they make the post-season.
The return of forward Jordan Mayer to the line-up after missing the weekend through injury will go some way to easing the ice time for some players.
“The effort from the guys at the weekend was unbelievable,” said Pacha. “Nobody could have argued if we had come away with all four points, despite what we were up against in terms of bodies out on the ice.
“We’d done really well in both games but, in particular against Coventry, we were just completely gassed but we deserved something definitely from both games. It will be good to get Jordan back in the line-up to help out.”
While confident his team can take themselves over the line and into the close season, Pacha is looking for Hull to try and build some momentum in the final three games and finish higher than tonight’s visitors in the final standings.
“If we were to get the win and make the play-offs it would be a big accomplishment because we have been through a lot this year, playing short with all the injuries we’ve had,” added Pacha.
“But the job won’t be done and there will still be work to do at the weekend. I don’t want to be content just to make the play-offs, I want to finish in the top six which is somewhere this club has never been before.”