NOW that Hull Pirates’ hopes of making the English Premier League play-offs have finally been ended, player-coach Dominic Osman is no doubt planning ahead for the 2016-17 season.
Defeats to Guildford and Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Steeldogs last week, combined with a win for eight-placed Manchester Phoenix confirmed Hull’s fate.
It was always going to be difficult for the East Yorkshire side to make it to the post-season given they were a first-year club who, after the unfortunate demise of EIHL predecessors Stingrays in the early part of last summer, were left playing catch-up on their EPL rivals in terms of preparations for the 2015-16 campaign.
Rookie coach Osman has admitted it has been a steep learning curve for himself and co-owner Shane Smith, but one he feels will benefit the club in the long run.
On a positive note, Osman feels his team have made progress on the ice, despite being in an 11-game losing slump.
Ahead of tonight’s visit from Swindon Wildcats, Osman said: “Every team at this time of the year expects to get better and better.
“We have been getting better and better and I am happy with the way we have been improving.
“At the same time, we have to make sure we keep continuing to learn and do the right things as the other teams are and will be doing that.”
Sheffield Steeldogs take on Roses rivals Manchester on Friday night, who are nine points adrift of them with nine games remaining.
Over the weekend, Greg Wood’s team will also be looking to close the gap on sixth-placed Swindon at Ice Sheffield on Sunday, the Wiltshire side currently six points ahead.
In between, they face a tricky trip to third-placed Guildford Flames.
Defenceman Tim Smith, who provided three assists in last Sunday’s 7-5 win at Hull, said the South Yorkshire club needed to build momentum going into the play-offs.
“We have to pick up playing as a team again,” said Smith. “We need to take one game at a time, get some form going into the play-offs and, hopefully, it will work going forward and we will qualify for the semi-finals in Coventry.
“We need to start the weekend off with two points at home to Manchester – we are battling for the same spot as them.
“I want to see us getting the solid performances in so we have something to take into the play-offs.”