Bowns: No pressure on Stingrays to get victory
NETMINDER Ben Bowns believes the pressure is off his Hull Stingrays side in Nottingham tomorrow – despite having won just once in their last five games.
Stingrays have shipped 17 goals in their last three matches against teams in the Gardiner Conference.
Now they face one of the Elite League's big guns in the Panthers.
The hosts will start red-hot favourites, given the Rapid Solicitors Hull Stingrays have shipped 16 goals on their last two visits to the National Ice Centre.
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However, Bowns remains in confident mood.
"It's easy to get up for these games, particularly as there'll be 5,000 fans in Nottingham which makes it easier, especially for players from North America who are used to that kind of stuff," he said.
"There's no pressure on us, in the sense that fans don't expect us to win so it will be classed as an upset.
"We have proved this year we are good enough to beat the top teams, having got through our Challenge Cup group into the quarter-finals.
"It proves we can play with those top teams and beat them.
"It would be nice to win tomorrow, especially as we set our targets high, but you have to be realistic.
"It would be nice to get a point away at Nottingham as it's a really tough place to go."
Inevitably, given the number of goals Stingrays are suddenly conceding, it's the defence that's under the microscope.
As it is his first Elite League season, Bowns has largely escaped criticism so far. However, his save rate has recently dropped under 90 per cent.
The 21-year-old Great Britain keeper is still pleased with his general form, but admits his recent outings have lacked consistency.
"I've been happy with my form," he said. "Just before I went away with GB and for the first few games after I got back was the most solid I had played.
"I got away from it a little bit against Braehead in Hull. I don't know why, sometimes it just happens, you don't feel the same every game.
"Last Saturday I felt I had a good game and on Sunday although Edinburgh beat us, I was not disappointed with the way I played."
Inevitably, though, the spotlight will turn on to the netminding, if Stingrays continue to ship goals.
Bowns accepts criticism goes with the territory of being a netminder.
"It's part of the job," he said. "Before the puck gets to me it has to get past five guys. If a goal then goes in the goalie's made a mistake, but it's part of playing that position.
"If a player makes a mistake there are four or five others to stop it.
"If a keeper makes a mistake then it's in the back of the net."
Bowns says consistency is important if Stingrays are to get back on track. He feels his side played well last Saturday, with a late goal proving costly, whereas on Sunday they were "not at the races."
"Braehead seem to have a massive budget for our Conference and obviously they are favourites for the title," said Bowns.
"But we are as good as Braehead, probably better, but need to be more consistent at times."