Belfast Telegraph

Owen makes strong case for Giants' defence

Fitting in: Shane Owen
Fitting in: Shane Owen
Adam McKendry

By Adam McKendry

Usually when someone deflects praise away from themselves and onto their team-mates, it's a sign of a good team player with a hint of modesty.

In Shane Owen's case, it's because it's well deserved.

In keeping the Nottingham Panthers restricted to just the 26 shots on Owen's goal, the Belfast Giants' defence was exceptional in their 3-0 win on Sunday that saw the new goaltender end with his first shut-out in teal.

They kept the Panthers forwards quiet, gave them only two odd-man rushes, limited their quality chances and, one struck post aside, ensured Owen was never overly tested.

"They were awesome. Boxing out, cutting them down at the blue line and not even giving them chances to get over the line," praised Owen.

"Most of their chances came on the penalty kill so we did a great job at shutting them down."

That's not to say Owen didn't play his part, far from it. The goaltender was always there to make the stops when required, looking as assured as he has all season in turning away all 26 pucks that came in his direction.

While the offensive issues have dominated most of the season's chat so far, Owen's quietly excellent start to the campaign has slid under the radar.

The 29-year-old has put in some stellar performances and sits with a fantastic stats line of a 1.51 goals against average and .930 save percentage through the opening four domestic games of the campaign.

Even when you add in the Champions League games, his numbers (2.64, .909) are still mightily impressive and represent one of the brightest points of the Giants' early season, which has seen them concede an average of just 2.88 goals per match.

So while the defence deserves its share of the credit, Owen certainly should earn a sizeable portion of it too.

Giants head coach Adam Keefe, referring to Owen's spells with the Fife Flyers, said: "It's no surprise to us, it's why we went after him. We've been on the other side of that a few times, so we know what he's capable of.

"If we can limit the quality chances he faces then we know he can do the job. The guys were good in front of him. There was a stretch in the second period where we were loose, we gave up some quality stuff, but he was there to shut the door for us."

Having come to Belfast after a couple of strong campaigns for Fife, it was hoped Owen's game would improve further behind a better defence and so it has proven, with the shut-out the cherry on top of his early-season form.

Given how much of the Giants' success last year stemmed from the shut-down netminding of Tyler Beskorowany, they'll need similar from Owen this season.

So far they've been getting it, and the man himself is certain they'll keep getting it too given the connection he has with the players in front of him.

"I strive for (a shut-out) every game, and if you get it then that's great. You just have to take it shot by shot, period by period," insisted Owen.

"Pressure is a privilege. Guys go out here and play for a reason. We work hard all week, you just need to carry that into the game. We trust each other."

Belfast Telegraph

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