NIHL: Hull Pirates find good place in behind rivals Sheffield Steeldogs

PLAYER-COach Jason Hewitt remains confident his Hull Pirates team have what it takes to stay the distance in the NIHL North One title race.

Hull Pirates' player-coach, Jason Hewitt. Picture: via Hull Pirates
Hull Pirates' player-coach, Jason Hewitt. Picture: via Hull Pirates

The East Yorkshire club go into tomorrow’s clash against second-bottom Nottingham Lions well-placed behind leaders Sheffield Steeldogs, who could stretch their lead to five points if they win on the road at fourth-placed hosts Solway Sharks tonight.

Hewitt’s all-British team also have a game in hand on their Yorkshire rivals with the former GB international delighted with the way the season has gone so far – particularly following all the upheaval brought about by last summer’s dissolution of the second-tier English Premier League.

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Hewitt admits the knock-on effect of the major changes that took place last summer – which threw together teams from two different levels in the British game into northern and southern conferences – took time to adjust to, for both players and owners.

Not surprisingly, the seven remaining teams from the old EPL – who had to cut their costs as well as go with three less imports than the five they were allowed in 2016-17 – have fared better than their lower-budget rivals.

“We still have to play Sheffield three more times this season so we’re in a good position and we’re playing good hockey,” said former Sheffield Steelers’ forward Hewitt.

“Every night is challenging, but for different reasons. There are still some good teams and then, with all due respect, there are other teams who are perhaps short on quality but work their backsides off trying to prove a point because we’re a former EPL team.”

The Steeldogs return the favour to tonight’s hosts Solway when the teams face each other again in Sheffield tomorrow.