Owen: Poles will have high hopes

(PHOTO: Scott Wiggins)

Fife Flyers goalie Shane Owen reckons former club GKS Katowice will have high hopes of success when they take on Belfast Giants in the Continental Cup.

The 28-year-old spent the second half of last season there as they finished second in the regular season and coming in as runner-up to Tychy, who qualified for the CHL.

And he reckons Katowice’s players will be in for a ‘treat’ as they get ready for their Continental Cup challenge, admitting it will be a test for them.

“Katowice have been on a great run recently, so they’ll have high hopes when they come to Belfast that they can do well and hopefully make it into the next round,” he said.

“They’ll be pumped up for that one and I don’t see why any team wouldn’t go to a tournament like that and not have any expectation of winning.

“They have a great team and from my time there, I think around half of the players are still there and are very skilled, especially going forward.

“They can move the puck well and have a great coach in Tom Coolen, who I think, does a great job for that team.

“Belfast is a tough place to play and the Katowice players will be in a for a treat.”

The Poles need to beat the Giants if they are to have any chance of progressing and hope for a favourable result in the other game between Medvescak Zagreb and Ritten Sport.

They beat Ritten 4-0 on Thursday, but fell 3-2 to Zagreb, setting up what promises to be a dramatic final day for all teams involved.

Owen picked out a couple of players for Belfast coach Adam Keefe to keep an eye on when they face each other tonight.

He also believes Polish ice hockey is of a higher standard than people realise and thinks the Giants have a test on their hands.

He added: “When I went there, I’d heard nothing but great things so I was surprised at how good the standard was over there.

“The hockey was great, where it was fast and the coach played a North American style, which is similar to the Elite League so it will be a good test for the Belfast Giants.

“Offensively, they are dangerous and guys like Patryk Wronka and Tomasz Malasinski, who played with my team-mate, Carlo Finucci in Swindon Wildcats, are a threat in that first line.

“It’s a tough test for Katowice, with the teams that are in that group with them, but all they can do is prepare right, give it 100% and see what happens.”