Ryan Hand: Hull Stingrays just need a few more bounces
ENFORCER Ryan Hand has every confidence Hull Stingrays will make the top-eight play-offs this season.
Stingrays have won just three times in 10 league games so far to occupy eighth spot.
And they travel to Cardiff tomorrow for a Challenge Cup clash which could make-or-break their prospects of making the quarter-finals.
However, Hand believes after a slow start the Rapid Solicitors Stingrays are "getting their act together".
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"Absolutely I'm confident of making the play-offs," he said.
"I have so much confidence in the team.
"Sylvain Cloutier has put together a good team.
"He is a great coach, very smart, and knows what he is looking for.
"We have a great team and can roll three lines.
"Some teams just play two, but we roll three all game and that's an advantage to us.
"Teams will be tired by the end of the game and that's when we can take advantage.
"If you look at the games we lost against Nottingham at the start of the year and Sheffield I feel we are right there with all the teams. We're not getting all the bounces but if we keep confident the bounces will come."
As the team's "tough guy", Hand is likely to be busy tomorrow in Cardiff in what is likely to be a full-blooded encounter, given the winner will be in the box-seat for the quarter-finals, while the loser will probably miss out.
The Welsh side are currently awaiting the deliberations of the Elite League's disciplinary panel after their clash against Coventry Blaze.
The post-match handshakes erupted into ugly scenes, which saw initial one-match bans handed to the Devils' defence coach Neil Francis and Coventry defenceman Ben Olson and six games to Cardiff forward Max Birbraer.
The police were called after a fan allegedly lunged at enforcer Olson.
If there's any rough stuff tomorrow, Hand is likely to be at the forefront of the fisticuffs, having already shown he won't back down.
"It's been good to get the first couple of fights under my belt," said Hand.
"I know referees are watching me, expecting me to do something.
"I can just be a physical presence, but I can also go to the net hard and finish my checks.
"Anyone touches my team-mates and I will be there to protect them.
"It instils confidence in them to do their jobs and do whatever they want out there and I'll look after them."
Asked if he "plays to the gallery", the 27-year-old fans' favourite said: "I have always been one to play to the crowd, have a fight and get the crowd going.
"Momentum is a huge part of hockey.
"If I don't get a fight I can try and get a hit in, it pumps up the bench and gets more energy for us."