I'll be my own man, says Belfast Giants' new netminder Shane Owen
It's a shame the Belfast Giants didn't sign Shane Owen sooner, because with a beard like his he could have been part of the cast of Game of Thrones.
The hit TV series wrapped up filming for its final season in Belfast last year, and the Canadian would not have looked out of place on one of its sets.
"When we were over (in Belfast) with Fife we heard that they were filming near the arena and some of the guys were saying maybe I could be part of the cast as one of the guys who dies!" said Owen.
Instead, he'll have to settle for a starring role of a different kind as the Giants' new starting netminder, the 29-year-old drafted in as the successor to Tyler Beskorowany between the pipes at the SSE Arena.
An established goalie in the Elite League having spent two excellent seasons with the Fife Flyers, the Ontario native figures to see his numbers improve this season behind a stronger defence in Belfast, making him a top quality addition to the roster.
However, Owen isn't thinking about the man he's taking over from, with Beskorowany - last year's Elite League Player of the Season - a big act to follow.
"I don't look at that at my point in my career, I feel like I've created a reputation for myself as Shane Owen. I've proved myself by playing well in the Elite League and I'm going to keep doing that," insisted the goaltender, who had a .912 save percentage with the Flyers last season.
"I'm not going to compare myself to other players, I'm just going to come in and do my thing and everything else will take care of itself.
"Honestly, last year I probably looked at my numbers once. I try and take it game by game, those numbers aren't the end of the world. I just want to go out there, save pucks and give my team a chance to win.
"If we're getting wins then I'm doing my job, and that's what I pride myself in, giving our team a chance to win every night."
Owen is just back into the gym for his pre-season routine, which includes pilates and yoga among other things, while he's also eager to catch a few concerts in Toronto before making his way to Belfast.
But once he gets to the SSE Arena, he'll be thrown right into the action, first in the Champions Hockey League and then as part of a roster aiming to defend both the Elite League and Challenge Cup titles.
"Having played against Belfast the last few seasons I saw how beautiful the city was and how great the fans were, and I heard how great the organisation was too, so I'm looking forward to joining the Giants," Owen enthused.
"I know that the Belfast fans gave me a hard time with some songs like 'Owen, it's all your fault', but I loved that!
"Playing in the Champions League, ever since coming over to Europe, it's been a dream of mine to play against the best with the best. That's going to be unreal.
"I'm going to relish it, I'm excited. I've always wanted to be the best I can be and win Championships, and I'm really looking forward to pulling on the jersey and hopefully winning trophies."
Meanwhile, the Giants have been placed in Group A of the Challenge Cup alongside the Dundee Stars, Fife Flyers and Glasgow Clan.
Adam Keefe's side will face each team home and away, with the top three finishers in the group qualifying for the quarter-finals of the tournament.