DOMINIC OSMAN believes Hull Stingrays can head into a daunting weekend against the Elite League’s top two teams full of confidence.
The East Yorkshire club travel to Northern Ireland today to take on defending regular season champions Belfast Giants, before flying home tomorrow in time to host current league leaders Braehead Clan.
On paper then, not many people will be expecting Hull to take much from the next 48 hours but, as they have proved already this season, they are more than capable of matching the best the UK’s top-flight has to offer.
In the two games that Belfast have played in Hull this season, the Giants won the first meeting 3-2 but were rocked when the hosts took both points by the same scoreline shortly before Christmas.
Braehead, also runaway leaders of the Gardiner Conference, have enjoyed the better of the four meetings between the two sides - winning three - although Hull’s solitary success did see them thump Ryan Finnerty’s team 6-2 at home in early November.
Osman, more often these days found fulfilling the role of defenceman than his traditional position as a forward, is hoping the Stingrays can build on the four-point weekend they enjoyed against Edinburgh Capitals a fortnight ago in order to help secure player-coach Omar Pacha’s team a play-off place sooner rather than later.
“Obviously we’re shooting for the play-offs,” said the 32-year-old American.
“A couple of weeks ago, we were fighting for the bottom play-off spot, but we had a huge four-point weekend against Edinburgh and that has pushed us up in the standings.
“Ideally, we want to confirm a play-off spot sooner rather than later. We don’t want to be waiting around until the last weekend of the season wondering whether we’re going to be in the play-offs or not, we want to get there a lot sooner.”
The first of two trips this season to the Odyssey Arena may present Hull with different kinds of travel arrangements than what they are used to but, as far as Osman is concerned, it is always a trip worth making.
“Going to Belfast - it is always fun place to play,” added Osman, now in his second stint with Hull following a two-year stay between 2011-13 when he was part of the Hull team which memorably reached the play-off weekend in Nottingham.
“They always pack the building, it’s a big building and it’s a fun trip, you get a plane ride and all of that.
“It’s a quick turnaround but that’s what you’re used to in this league anyway so that part is nothing new. To be honest the travel is probably easier for this game - it’s not like you’re on a seven-hour bus trip to Cardiff or somewhere and then coming back to play somebody at home the next day.”