JARED Owen believes his Blackburn Hawks side will only get better after ending their opening day hoodoo on Sunday.

Hawks have been renowned slow starters in the English National Ice Hockey League North One over the past few campaigns, but got off the mark immediately with a hard-fought 3-3 draw at home to Sheffield Spartans.

Matt Viney, Owen and Lance Derbyshire were all on target for the hosts, who had four debutants in the side, as they started their assault on the title in solid fashion.

Hawks coach Owen, said: “We are traditionally awful starters, so we are a point better off now than we normally are at this stage.

“Sheffield are a good side and it would be fair to say both sides would have gone away thinking they could have got the win.

“We have a double header against Trafford this weekend and if we can get two wins, it would be a great start for us.”

After a difficult summer, in which Hawks suffered something of a player exodus, Owen admits it will inevitably take time for his new squad to come together.

Scottish forward Robbie Summers made a promising debut on Saturday, having signed from Fife Flyers late on Friday night, with a number of his compatriots expected to follow.

Latvian ace Ivo Dimitrijevs will start training at the Arena on Thursday, having previously played in the States, as he bids to earn a place in the Hawks’ squad.

“A few from Scotland might be coming over and if they are anything like Robbie they will be real assets,” Owen said.

“Robbie only signed at 10pm on Friday night and had not trained with the team but I thought he showed real promise. He is a feisty player, he had a fight as well so the fans already love him.”

Myles Dacres, Jordan Ashington, Chris Royds and Summers were all given their home league debuts and it was the hosts who took the lead.

David Miekle fed Craig Rogers on the blue line, and when the big defenceman’s slapshot was too hot for the Sheffield keeper, Viney was on-hand to control the deflected puck and fire home.

The euphoria was short-lived as, within a minute, the visitors were level and Sheffield then went ahead early in the second period.

On 36 minutes, the home side regained parity in the match, as a cross from Miekle found Owen, and he beat Bagshaw with a competent finish.

The visitors went ahead once again during a power play but Derbyshire ignited wild cele-brations in the crowd with a leveller in the final 20 minutes after getting a clear run on goal.