Shane Owen is the netminder who breaks opposition hearts.
The Fife Flyers number 50 has been one of the pillars behind the team’s promising start to the EIHL season, topping the goalie charts with a save percentage of .942 thus far.
He was at his very best last night as Flyers claimed a 3-1 midweek road win at bottom of the table Sheffield Steelers, including a jaw-dropping backheel save while lying sprawled on the ice.
Guildford Flames also suffered at the hands of Owen, heavily outshooting Fife over the weekend double-header only to leave empty-handed on each occasion.
Despite conceding five at the Spectrum on Sunday, Owen’s stats still made for good reading, with 47 saves from 52 shots, which combined with a devastating display of firepower at the other end, helped the team to an impressive 6-5 away victory.
With Flyers also putting six past Flames on home ice the previous night, the team has players showing formidable form at both ends of the ice.
“It helps if I just have to concede less than six!” Owen said.
“If we’re scoring goals, it gives me confidence that I can just focus on myself and saving pucks, and giving the team a chance to win every night.
“I try not to look at the score and just focus on the present, your breathing, that next shot, and making that next save.
“But if the team is getting ahead early it allows you to fold into the game a little bit easier, and takes a little pressure off your shoulders.”
Owen has faced an average of 35 shots per match thus far, a rather high number for a team that has claimed 13 points from 14 and sits second in the EIHL standings.
However, he has discouraged anyone from reading too much into those statistics.
“Teams just like to throw the puck on net,” he said. “This league has always been like that, with lots of shots.
“It’s a North American style of hockey on big ice. There’s just so much room that teams come over the blue line and fire pucks on net hoping the goalie makes a mistake.
“I don’t mind it. It gets you into the game if you make a few early saves and roll into it.
“I’d rather face 30-plus shots than sit in net and face 15 and you’re just kinda sleeping there, then all of a sudden they get a breakaway and you’re cold. Then it’s tougher.
“I’ve always played better when I’ve faced more shots, so I’m not complaining. It’s my job to save pucks.”
Owen is also satisfied that the defence are doing a good job in front of him.
“They’ve been helping me out a tonne,” he said.
“They’ve been clearing pucks in front and letting me see the puck. If I can see the puck I should be able to make the save.
“We’ve been doing a great job, and that includes our forwards as well, especially in the last three or four games with backpressuring and cutting off odd man rushes.
“They play a huge part in our defence as well, putting in the hard work to get back, and everything is coming together nicely.”
Owen returned to Fife in the summer having left the previous year after earning a move to Sweden with BIK Karlskoga, but his Scandanavian adventure lasted just 13 games.
“It didn’t really go as planned, but it was a great experience,” he said.
“Sweden was unbelievable hockey – really skilled and fast. The team was good but we lost a lot of games 2-1, 3-2.
“I felt good about my game, I was playing well, but we lost six or seven games in a row and the team just had to make a change.
“We had two imports on the team - they got rid of us, fired the coaches and pretty much shipped the whole team and started afresh.
“It kinda sucks we were in that situation. We could have won a couple of those close games and things could’ve turned out different.
“I ended up going to Poland and had another great experience there. We ended up losing in the finals but we won 13 or 14 games in a row. I felt great about my game so I had some confidence from that and rolled it into this year.
“I’m now back here, and I love it. Things happen for a reason.”