Blackburn HAWKS player-coach Jared Owen admits Solway Sharks are the exactly the side he wanted to face this weekend.
The defending league champions will arrive at the Blackburn Arena on Sunday (5.45pm) intent on revenge.
The Sharks saw their incredible 34-match unbeaten run ended by the Hawks last season – and with it their hopes of a dream double – when they lost the play-off semi-final second leg between the sides.
The famous 6-1 success sent the Hawks through as 9-6 aggregate winners to the final, where they beat Billingham Stars to claim the first piece of silverware in the club’s history.
Billingham went some way to avenging that two-legged defeat when last weekend they became the first side to beat the Hawks this season.
The 4-1 North Cup defeat ensured spirits were low in the Hawks camp on the journey back to Blackburn.
But Owen believes there is no better opposition than the Sharks to pick themselves up for.
He said: “I couldn’t have asked for a better game.
“For me as a coach it is the ideal game for us to try and bounce back.
“Solway will be coming here for revenge but also to prove they are the top team in the league once again. It was the first time in 30-odd games they had been beaten and we were very happy to do that.
“But this is a different game and one we will have to be up for.”
Sunday’s cup loss at Billingham followed a 1-1 league draw at Sheffield Spartans on Saturday.
Owen said: “I don’t think we ever got out of second gear against Billingham. I’ve looked back at the match stats and they only outshot us by two, so we were creating things.
“But we just lacked zip and in the end it was a disappointing result.”
Owen hopes to welcome back David Meikle for Sunday’s Sharks clash.
The forward has been struggling with an ankle injury but was expected to train last night.
Ivo Dimitrijevs remains unavailable but Owen could have key defenceman Scott Robson to call on, which he calls ‘a big boost’.
Robson missed both matches last weekend as he was on duty with Elite League outfit Hull Stingrays.
The Hawks hope to attract a big crowd on Sunday after they announced a link-up with Accrington Stanley.
Stanley season-ticket holders will be able to get in for free.
Owen said: “Hopefully we’ll get a few more people in and we’ll treat them to some good entertainment.”