Stingrays eye solid start as Steelers bring in new faces

Omar Pacha believes a more passive approach at home can yield the desired results for Hull Stingrays.

Hull Stingrays player-coach Omar Pacha. Picture: Arthur Foster.
Hull Stingrays player-coach Omar Pacha. Picture: Arthur Foster.

Stingrays have found themselves trailing by two goals at the end of the first period in two of their last three games at Hull Arena, both ending in 3-2 defeats.

One of those came against 
tonight’s visitors Cardiff Devils (6.30pm) and player-coach Pacha knows they need to provide a solid foundation to build from.

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“Against any team in this league you need to get off to a good start otherwise you are playing catch-up,” said Pacha.

“Those first few shifts are important and we want a strong start, we need to get pucks deep, make them turn, make life difficult and make them work hard.

“We need to keep it simple. We have been conceding early at home and chasing the game.

“We have given ourselves a chance but the first periods have killed us.

“Against Cardiff the last time I thought we controlled the pace in the second half of the game, but we made too many mental mistakes in that first period and they were all over us.”

Stingrays head to Edinburgh Capitals in the Gardiner Conference tomorrow having taken three points out of four from two previous trips to Murrayfield, including a 6-3 triumph on December 28.

Sheffield Steelers welcome Coventry Blaze to the Motorpoint Arena tonight (7pm) before heading to in-form Cardiff tomorrow.

It’s been a busy few days for head coach Gerad Adams who has brought in two new faces for the title hopefuls.

A hand injury for goalie Frank Doyle has now ruled him out for three weeks prompting Adams to bring in inexperienced American netminder Josh Unice.

The 25-year-old, from Ohio, was on the roster of Slovakian side Banska Bystric earlier this season but left after only making two appearances.

Most of his game-time has been at university and for the USA youth teams, before a step up to the ECHL with Gwinnett Gladiators, where he made four appearances.

“We had feared the worst with Frank and started a search for a new goalie hoping it wouldn’t be needed but it was,” said Adams.

“We are very lucky to have signed Josh so quickly. He is an impressive young man looking to come to Sheffield and make a name for himself.”

Late last night it was confirmed by the Steelers that Unice won’t be the only one making his debut on Saturday night, with Slovakian forward Tomas Petruska arriving from Austrian club Graz 99ers.

The 28-year-old will fill the hole left by Danny Bois, who was axed by Adams earlier in the week after just 13 games for Steelers.

“This is probably the quickest signing I have ever been a part of,” added Adams. “We got the word that Tomas was available if we were prepared to move quickly.”

Adams’s team - also boosted by the return of D-man Cullen Eddy – will look to maintain their 100 per cent home record over struggling Blaze, who are currently sitting outside the play-off places.

Previous meetings in the league in South Yorkshire have seen the Steelers prevail 3-2 and 4-2, while Coventry’s only win in the series so far was a 6-2 triumph on home ice back in November.

Steelers face a tough trip on Sunday night when they head south to take on Elite League title rivals Cardiff, who have beaten both Belfast Giants and Nottingham Panthers in their last two home matches and have won 12 of their last 14 games.

Steelers won 3-2 in Cardiff earlier on in the season in the Challenge Cup, but their last visit saw them return home after suffering a 5-2 defeat.

Nottingham moved into second place in the overall league standings on Friday night after a comprehensive 4-0 victory at third-placed Belfast.