IN his first Lancashire Telegraph column, Hawks player/assistant coach James Neil reflects on the opening game of the season.

ALTHOUGH we lost the first game of the season 5-1 to Hull Pirates there were plenty of positives for us to take from the performance and I have no doubt we will have a good campaign if we carry on putting in performances like that.

Hull are one of the best teams in the league and we competed with them for long periods, we went 3-0 down but showed plenty of fight and drew the second period 1-1 and lost the last one 1-0 but we still out-shot Hull.

Considering it was our first game - we have not even had a pre-season match - then I think we can be pleased.

We have a few new faces and they all played well and it was good to see our two imports playing and looking the part.

There has been a lot going on at the club over the summer with a few off-field changes and we want to be more positive about what we have to offer.

Blackburn has a lot of potential, it has a great rink and a really strong fanbase and we want to maximise what we have.

It is little things like making sure we all have team tracksuits and that every player has sticks, last year some did and some didn’t. Things like that mean that everyone feels wanted and then the players give you that little bit more.

We had a team day on Saturday and went out for a meal together and I don’t think that would have happened last season. We want to be that little bit more professional.

It is a tough league this season, we can’t stand still as a lot of the teams are stronger but I am confident we can reach the play-offs. The usual suspects of Hull, Sheffield and Telford will be up there and Solway and Billingham look strong.

The top eight reach the play-offs and it would be nice to get a top four spot but we will have to make sure we are competitive.

We know we’re not going to win every game, but if we play like we did on Sunday then we will win more than we lose.