MATTY Davies believes Hull Stingrays’ extra forward speed this season will prove crucial to any success they enjoy in the Elite League.
As often happens, a number of new faces arrived at the Hull Arena during the summer, with player-coach Sylvain Cloutier looking to repeat the club’s play-off semi-final run last season.
Davies, 22, was one of just a handful of players retained by Cloutier and, despite a frustrating start to the campaign, believes the club can enjoy further success.
After a frustrating start to the campaign, Hull now hope to have turned a corner with Saturday night’s 4-3 home defeat of Gardiner Conference rivals Dundee Stars. The victory brought an end to an eight-game winless streak which had been made all the more galling with four of those defeats coming as the result of a shoot-out.
But Davies insists the self-belief in Sylvain Cloutier’s team never wavered, an attitude which offers hope for the remainder of the campaign.
“It’s a different team this year,” said Davies. “We’ve got a lot more speed in our forwards which is key with the way the game is going.
“We’ve not got a lot of size up front, but we’ve got a lot of tricky guys such as Janis Ozolins and Cale Tanaka, players who are always going to cause problems with their speed and skill.
“Even when we couldn’t get that win, I felt that as a team we were still playing really well – we just couldn’t get over the line and pick up that two points. We’ve still picked up points though and, just as importantly, we kept creating plenty of chances.
“We’ve had a lot of close games – even against the so-called better teams like Cardiff and Nottingham at the start of the season. But the Dundee was a massive result for us, particularly as they are in our conference.”
So far this season, Davies has been a solid contributor in terms of points once again, notching up two goals and eight assists in 14 appearances.
“I feel like I’ve been playing well so far,” added Davies. “I’m playing more in the middle now so that has given me a bit more responsibility.
“I’m trying to be defensively strong as well as continuing to put points on the board. I’ll keep plugging away and just try to produce as much as I can for the team, as well do.”
The Stingrays return to Gardiner Conference action with just the one game this weekend, welcoming Fife Flyers to the Hull Arena on Saturday (6.30pm). Captain and defenceman Kurtis Dulle remains doubtful after missing last weekend with a suspected stomach bug.
SHEFFIELD Steelers’ Tom Sestito has been cleared to play in this weekend’s double-header at Belfast Giants after the match penalty he received for a check to the head in Sunday’s game against Hull was quashed.
After reviewing more detailed video footage of the incident – which saw Hull’s Andy Ward knocked unconscious and taken to hospital – the Elite League’s head of discipline Simon Kirkham said: “The video clearly shows the point of contact is to the body and not to his head. It is therefore a legal hit and no further action will be taken.”
Ryan Finnerty, Steelers’ head coach, added: “Once we had reviewed all of the evidence we were confident that the penalty would be squashed.”
As for Sestito himself, the American forward – who enjoyed a breakthrough season with Philadelphia Flyers in the NHL last season – took to Twitter to show his delight at the decision, saying: “First I’d like to say I’m pulling for Andy Ward for a speedy recovery I’ve been there its a tough spot, 2nd I’m glad the league reversed the call. I didn’t think it was a dirty hit and wanted to wait until the league came down before I said anything.”