Blackburn Hawks ready to swoop for the top spot

Lancashire Telegraph: Chris Arnone's Blackburn Hawks will go top with a win Chris Arnone's Blackburn Hawks will go top with a win

BLACKBURN Hawks will look to continue where they left off when they make the short trip to Manchester Minotaurs tomorrow in the NLN Cup (5pm) Jared Owen’s side produced their best performance of a so far inconsistent season on Sunday when they thrashed Billingham Stars 7-1.

The stunning home victory hauled the Hawks up to fifth in the NIHL Moralee Conference standings.

A place in the play-offs – where they would look to defend their title – remains the top priority for player-coach Owen.

But he is also determined to enjoy success in the cup and a win over the Minotaurs would take the Hawks to the top of the table.

Hawks boss Owen said: “Everything seemed to click for us against Billingham.

“We put our chances our away, which is something we’ve not always done this season, and on the night everything went right for us and everything went wrong for Billingham.

“It was our best performance of the season. Everyone throughout the team played well and now we’ve got to build on it against the Minotaurs.

“We’ve haven’t had too many bad performances this season, it’s just that we haven’t always been good enough in front of goal.”

Owen certainly found his shooting boots in the Billingham battering.

He hit a hat-trick on his way to netting the MVP award.

But Owen chose to pay credit to the other forwards in his line – Adam Brittle and Canadian import Jon Adams – rather than bask in the glory himself.

Brittle, Aaron Davies, Craig Rogers and David Meikle were also on target for the Hawks while Jake Nurse enjoyed an impressive home debut.

Owen believes new boys Nurse and Adams have given the Hawks an added dimension.

He said: “Both are proving to be really good, solid signings.

“They have added a bit of balance as both are physical players who like to put their bodies about and upset the rhythm of other teams.

“I think we were missing that.”

Owen expects to have a full-strength squad to choose from tomorrow.

Netminder Stuart Ashton is likely to be given another chance to shine between the pipes.

But Owen is unlikely to make too many changes as feels it is important to develop some ‘continuity between the lines’.

Tomorrow’s match is the first of two meetings between the teams before the year is out.

The Hawks make the return journey to the Minotaurs on Saturday, December 28 for a NIHL Moralee Conference encounter before welcoming Solway Sharks to the Blackburn Arena on Sunday, December 29 for a crucial NLN Cup clash.

Blackburn Eagles, meanwhile, entertain Solihull Barons in the NIHL Laidler Conference tomorrow (5.45pm).

The Eagles went down 5-1 at Nottingham Lions on Sunday.

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