VIDEO: Pacha still buoyant despite Cup demise at group stage

HULL STINGRAYS may have exited the Challenge Cup before the knockout phase with a 3-2 home defeat to Cardiff Devils, but player-coach Omar Pacha was left with plenty of encouraging signs ahead of the team’s push for a play-off place.

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

Hull went into their final Group B game on the back of a 7-0 hammering at the hands of Cardiff – the Elite League’s form team – on Tuesday night in South Wales.

A win – either in regulation or overtime – would have been enough for Pacha’s team to seal a two-legged quarter-final with Braehead Clan later this month.

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But that tie now goes to Coventry Blaze after a poor start cost the Stingrays dearly in front of their own fans.

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

Andrew Hotham put the visitors ahead at 1.57 and the Devils doubled their lead through defenceman Mark Richardson on the powerplay at 9.58.

Hull halved the deficit through Carl Lauzon just 21 seconds into the second period and the home side had several other opportunities against back-up netminder Mike Will – standing in between the pipes instead of Ben Bowns, the former Hull goalie who moved to South Wales in the summer.

Joey Haddad’s powerplay strike at 23.36 made it 3-1, but thereafter it was almost one-way traffic with Hull out-shooting the visitors 45-23 on the night but only having Will Frederick’s 54th-minute powerplay strike to show for their efforts.

“We made a slow start and it cost us,” said Pacha. “But there were a lot of positives. We had some great goaltending, our defence was solid and we generated enough chances to win the game.”