DOMINIC OSMAN is confident his Hull Pirates team will rebound quickly after suffering a first blank weekend in their 2016-17 English Premier League campaign.
A surprise 7-3 defeat at home to leaders Telford Tigers was followed by a 2-0 loss on the road at Peterborough Phantoms, although Osman saw enough encouraging signs from his players in Cambridgeshire to give him the belief that a return to winning ways will occur this weekend.
If that is to be the case, it will be through victories earned the hard way as they face a trip to second-placed Milton Keynes Lightning on Saturday before returning home to host defending champions Basingstoke Bison, who have recovered from a slow start to rise to fourth in the standings with 12 wins from their last 15 games.
“We’re in good shape,” said Osman. “It was a little bit of a slip-up on Saturday at home to Telford but I thought we played really well in Peterborough and were just a bit unlucky.
“We have to remember that before last weekend we had won seven straight and we need to remember that we are a good hockey team - we’ve proved that already this season.
“You’re going to have the odd setback here and there - every team does and not coming out of the weekend with any points is something we’re not used to and we want to make sure that doesn’t happen again.”
Osman’s team have been the surprise package of the campaign, in only the club’s second season in existence and having missed out on the play-offs last time out.
Currently sitting third, the Pirates are determined not to fade away in the race for honours, with American player-coach Osman confident his players have what it takes to keep up with their leading rivals.
“As a coaching staff we were always confident that we had a good team coming into the season,” said Osman. “But after watching the way that we’ve been playing and seeing how the guys have grown and gelled together you can see the confidence levels have just kept rising.”
Elsewhere, Sheffield Steeldogs will look to arrest a four-game slump that has seen them slip to eighth in the standings.
What was more worrying about last week’s losses for Greg Wood’s side was that they came at the hands of the only two teams beneath them, Bracknell Bees and Manchester Phoenix.
This weekend brings just the one game when Milton Keynes visit Ice Sheffield on Sunday (5.30pm).
Despite their poor run of form, Sheffield will head into the clash knowing they are a good match for the Lightning, narrowly losing out twice by the odd goal in the previous meetings between the two this season.