Struggling Hull offer serious threat to Steelers

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RYAN Finnerty believes Hull Stingrays’ lowly Elite League position gives a false reading on how dangerous are Sylvain Cloutier’s side.

A run of six games without a win and results elsewhere have left Hull bottom of the overall league standings as they prepare for tonight’s visit from Finnerty’s title-chasing Sheffield Steelers.

The Yorkshire rivals have met twice already this season, both in the Challenge Cup and with the Steelers prevailing each time.

But Finnerty has warned his third-placed team to expect a tough examination when the teams clash in a first league meeting of the season at Hull Arena (6.30pm).

“I think they are the deepest team in their conference,” said Finnerty. “It’s a battle every time you go into Hull – they’ve got a bit of everything.

“I think where they are in the overall standings gives a false impression. They’ve got excellent forwards in (Jereme) Tendler and (Jason) Silverthorn, who will always get you points.

“And I like (Dominic) Osman a lot – he’s one of the most under-rated players in the whole league.

“It’s in their barn, they’re going to be up for it and we’ve got to make sure we’re ready.”

Cloutier’s team have yet to take a point off teams in the Erhardt Conference, losing all six encounters against the so-called ‘big five’. The Hull player-coach knows how much his players’ confidence would be lifted if they could end that barren spell.

“This group believe they can play with them (Steelers) and there would not be a better night to get back on the winning trail,” said Cloutier. “A win against one of the top sides is so important for self-belief.”

Hull head to Cardiff tomorrow, for a first league meeting of the season against their hosts where they will hope to add to the two wins they enjoyed over the Devils in the Challenge Cup.

The Steelers – currently eight points behind leaders Nottingham Panthers with two games in hand – will continue with their hectic schedule of eight games in 16 days when they host second-placed Belfast Giants tomorrow.

Belfast – hammered 6-1 at Nottingham last week – bounced back with a 4-1 win at home to Coventry Blaze last night.

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