DOMINIC Osman says Hull Stingrays must remain positive as they head into what could prove a pivotal fortnight in their Elite League season.
The American forward, now in his second season in East Yorkshire, believes there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful, despite the club occupying bottom place in the overall standings.
Perhaps of more importance is the team’s status in the Gardiner Conference, which currently sees them in fourth with only seven points separating all five teams.
Whoever wins the conference is likely to be the second seed for the end-of-season play-offs, increasing the chances of a run to the final four weekend in Nottingham.
Six of Stingrays’ next seven games are against conference rivals – starting with a home game against Edinburgh Capitals on Saturday – with Osman believing a timely winning run is possible.
“We have a big couple of weeks coming up in terms of our conference,” said Osman. “We need to take the positives from everything that we’ve been doing here recently.
“We were in a bit of a slump but we’ve come out of it and played some real good hockey against the top teams. I really believe we’re right in there.”
Currently Stingrays’ second-highest goalscorer this season with 17, 30-year-old Osman has once again delivered the goods, posting 26 points overall. It follows on from an impressive first season in the UK with Hull when, after a sluggish start, he finished the year strongly to record 41 points (including 27 goals) in 56 games as Hull memorably gatecrashed the final four play-off weekend at the National Ice Centre.
Impressive performances in recent outings against the league’s so-called top clubs have given the Michigan-born winger the belief that Hull have what it takes to start climbing the standings.
A 3-2 victory at Cardiff Devils last weekend, while quickly followed by a 3-1 defeat to Sheffield Steelers, was a significant moment, marking the first league success Hull had enjoyed over Erhardt Conference opposition.
It should only serve to strengthen the belief among the Stingrays’ roster that their play-off destiny still remains very much in their own hands.
“We are going to have to start stealing more points off these top teams if we want to move up the table, we know that,” said Osman, with an away trip to Coventry Blaze on Sunday night providing the next opportunity to do so.
“It is always frustrating playing like we did against Sheffield on Sunday and coming out with a loss.
“But we were excited about taking another two points out of Cardiff (Hull won there earlier in the season in the Challenge Cup). It’s always tough going into that building, but we were happy with the way we played there and, I think, with the way we played over the whole weekend.
“Make no mistake, a win here and a win there and we’re right up there. We might be at the bottom of the table right now, but we’re not that far away from anyone.
“We’re just going to keep battling through any adversity that comes our way and that will only be better for us as the season progresses - both as a team and as individuals.”