OMAR PACHA is determined the hard work put in by his Hull Stingrays team does not go to waste as they strive to secure a play-off spot.
Today sees the Yorkshire club head to Scotland for the whole weekend as they come face-to-face with two of their main rivals for a top-eight spot.
Fife Flyers play host tonight, looking to avenge last Sunday’s 5-4 defeat in East Yorkshire, and Edinburgh Capitals – three points behind Stingrays – welcome Pacha’s team tomorrow.
With games in hand on both of their Gardiner Conference rivals, Hull are in control of their own destiny and go out on to the ice in Kirkcaldy tonight knowing a regulation win would take them above Fife and into sixth place in the overall Elite League standings.
With a resurgent Coventry Blaze and Edinburgh Capitals also picking up points on a regular basis, there is a thrilling four-way fight for three available play-off spots with only a month of the regular season remaining.
Last week’s thrilling win over Todd Dutiaume’s team saw Hull reach .500 for first time this season after 38 games, further evidence Pacha believes, of the effort put in by his young roster.
“We’ve worked extremely hard to get ourselves into this position and we need to continue that at what is now the business end of the season,” said player-coach Pacha, who remains without influential British captain Matty Davies, out with a knee injury.
“It will be good to have a weekend together in Scotland but we’re a close bunch anyway. We’re a tight-knit group, there are plenty of characters, but this is a bunch of good guys who like to compete and are very supportive of each other.
“It did take me time to adjust to being a player-coach and I think it also took the guys time to adjust to having a 28-year-old coach in charge.
“But you have to give our players credit because we’re essentially asking rookies to play like veterans, week in, week out.
“I am convinced we are one of the hardest-working teams in the league. If we’d had this line-up and spirit from the start of the season when we had lots of injuries, we would be in a much better position in the league.”
Pacha acknowledged his team were not at their best in last week’s success over Fife and expects tonight’s hosts to come out hard, keen to exact some swift revenge.
“I think you could say we got a bit lucky last weekend, but I’ve also lost count of the number of times when we’ve dominated games – particularly at home – and come away with nothing,” added Pacha.
“We found a way to win, but they will be looking to even the score, it’s only natural. But we’ve had a good week of practice and we’re going to have to be ready from the off.”