Stingrays lose ground on play-off rivals

A ONE-POINT return from their weekend in Scotland saw Hull Stingrays lose some ground on some of their Elite league play-off rivals, but they still remain well-placed to make the post-season.

Jordan Mayer scored early for Hull Stingrays in Edinburgh, but were denied 5-4 after a shoot-out. Picture: Arthur Foster.

A 5-0 thumping at the hands of sixth-placed Fife Flyers on Saturday night followed by a 5-4 loss on a shoot-out at the hands of Edinburgh Capitals, made it a long coach ride home for Omar Pacha’s players.

An unexpected four-point weekend for Coventry Blaze earned through wins against Sheffield Steelers and Nottingham Panthers saw Hull drop to eighth in the standings.

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With Pacha stating on several occasions that sixth place is where he wants to finish at the end of the regular season, it was a far from ideal 48 hours.

In Hull’s favour, is the fact they have games in hand on their rivals as four teams – Dundee Stars are almost certainly out of the play-off picture – battle it out for the remaining three play-off spots.

Both Fife and Coventry are now three points ahead of Hull, but the Stingrays have three games in hand on Coventry and five on Fife.

Edinburgh’s shoot-out triumph over Hull at Murrayfield took them level on points with the East Yorkshire club, but Pacha’s team also have three games in hand on them.

Destiny, therefore, still remains very much in Hull’s hands, their main problem being the glut of fixtures they face in the next month.

“It has been a frustrating weekend,” admitted Pacha. “We produced a much better performance (than in Fife) but we just could not find the win.

“I thought we played well enough to win it in regulation time, we showed up, we competed, the intensity was there and we created some chances.

“Our third period was our best of the weekend and we had a late chance on the powerplay. When it comes to a shoot-out it is a lottery. We had trouble last season in the shoot-out and we can’t seem to buy one this year.

“One point this weekend was not our goal but we just have to move on now and focus on another big weekend. We have 12 games left, it isn’t going to be easy but we just have to take it one game at a time.”

Jordan Mayer’s second-minute strike – his 25th of the season – gave Hull the perfect start against the Capitals, although it was all square by 6.33 when Dennis Rix pounced to fire past David Brown.

That is how it stayed until a busy second period which produced five goals and saw the Stingrays go in 4-3 down with 20 minutes remaining.

Riley Emmerson put the home side ahead on the powerplay at 22.26, but Hull were ahead within two minutes thanks to Carl Lauzon’s powerplay goal being followed by Will Frederick’s eighth of the season.

Back came Edinburgh once again, levelling through Rene Jarolin 36.15 and then going ahead for a second time through Emmerson’s second powerplay strike of the night just over two minutes later.

Hull were soon level after the third period got underway, Frederick’s second of the night lighting the lamp at 40.51.

That was how it stayed, including a goalless overtime period, with Rix’s penalty shot being the decisive strike after Jordan Knox, Frederick and Lauzon all missed theirs.

In Fife on Saturday, a goalless first period was followed by Hull conceding twice in 64 seconds through goals from Jordan Fulton on the powerplay at 25.05 and Matt Reber.

It was 3-0 before the end of the second after Scott Fleming’s 38th-minute strike and things got worse less than two minutes into the third period when Reber grabbed his second of the night.

As the game fizzled out, Fife grabbed a fifth through Fleming’s powerplay strike at 52.53, Hull being shut-out for the fourth time this season.

An early example of Hull’s fixture backlog arrives next weekend when a trip to Belfast Giants on Friday night heralds the first of three games in as many nights, part of a gruelling spell of six games in 10 days.

Sheffield Steelers visit East Yorkshire 24 hours after Hull visit the Odyssey with bottom club Dundee coming down the following night.

A midweek trip to Nottingham follows for Hull before another weekend away in Scotland which sees them take on Fife and Dundee.

RESULTS

Sunday: Belfast Giants 4 Sheffield Steelers 5 (OT), Cardiff Devils 3 Fife Flyers 1, Coventry Blaze 2 Nottingham Panthers 1, Dundee Stars 0 Braehead Clan 5, Edinburgh Capitals 5 Hull Stingrays 4 (SO).

Saturday: Belfast Giants 4 Edinburgh Capitals 6, Braehead Clan 3 Dundee Stars 0, Fife Flyers 5 Hull Stingrays 0, Nottingham Panthers 2 Cardiff Devils 3, Sheffield Steelers 1 Coventry Blaze 2.