Building the Herd – Greg Owen

#9 Greg Owen

Position: Forward

Born: Northampton, Northamptonshire

Announced as signed: Meet the coach event, 2nd May

 

After Joe Miller had waded through the crowd to the small stage in the rink bar and the rapturous applause had died down, Doug Sheppard got back on the microphone to announce who he said would like be Miller’s linemate for the upcoming season in the shape of former Bison fan favourite Greg Owen.

Northampton born Owen played Junior A hockey in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League for the Notre Dame Hounds where he played alongside current Columbus Blue Jacket netminder Curtis McElhinney. After finishing his time in Canada, Owen headed back to Britain for the 2002/03 season where he split time between Bracknell in the Superleague and Milton Keynes in the EPL which was the 3rd tier league at the time. Owen put up a modest 3 points in 18 games with the Bees but scored 40 goals and 63 points in 36 games with the Lightning as Milton Keynes captured the playoff title.

When Bracknell dropped to the BNL for 2003/04, Owen returned and spent the next 2 seasons at the Hive wracking up 67 points in 71 games over two seasons as well as the BNL title in 2004/05 with the Bees.

Late in 2005, Owen signed on with the Bison in the last year of the Mark Bernard era and quickly slotted into the Bison line up, appearing 30 times and scoring 12 points. The 2006/07 season with Sheppard at the helm saw Owen’s breakout year as part of the famous “Bison Line” where he was the centre for Brad Cruikshank and Greg Chambers. In what was arguably the best line the Bison had in the EIHL era in terms of productivity, Owen wracked up 106 points in his last 2 seasons with the Bison including as part of the “Bison 10” season of 2007/08 where he was part of the Knockout Cup final team.

After that season, Owen took up the opportunity to move to France where he played in the Ligue Magnus (their Elite League) for the Briançon Diables Rouges (Red Devils) where he scored 21 points in 25 games before heading back to Britain and the Elite League where he joined the Coventry Blaze at the start of 2009/10. Already reunited with Greg Chambers, the addition of Brad Cruikshank at the 2010 signing deadline saw the return of the Bison line as Owen tallied 45 points in 46 games and his first Elite League title with the Blaze. Whilst fortunes for the Blaze took something of a downturn, Owen’s point scoring consistency remained as he tallied 47 and 43 points in his last two seasons with the Skydome side before announcing he was signing closer to his home in Reading. Owen also has an impressive record of 23 points in 30 appearances for Great Britain in World Championship play.

People have players they love and hate, I know I do. With that a quick question, have you ever met anyone who hates Greg Owen? I don’t mean on a personal level but on a hockey level. There are players you hate playing against because they always score or you think they’re a goon but in hockey terms, it’s hard to find anyone with a bad word to say about Greg. He’s plays a very honest, straight forward game that makes him likeable as a player. Sheppard saying he’s likely to put him with Joe Miller is just common sense after last season. Owen, like Daniel Volrab before him is a natural centre and arguably one of the best British centres of the last few years at EIHL level. He plays his position well and his passing can put the puck on a sixpence which given Miller’s talent of getting to the right place at the right time by fair means or foul should hopefully bring good results and will likely be the Bison’s top line.

It’ll be interesting to see who goes on a line with them. With Joe Greener (more on him tomorrow) likely to at least start the season on a line with Sheppard, I’ll be interested to see if Doug puts another out and out scorer on that line or whether they go for someone a bit bigger to “clear the way”. With rumours flying around that Greg Chambers could be on his way back to Basingstoke, you’d have to think if he did sign the logical place to put him would be on a line with Owen given previous success they’ve had together. We’ll have to wait and see on that.

I’ll finish with a short story. By virtue of sheer good planning and timing, I was on a Coventry supporting friend’s stag do in Edinburgh the night the Blaze won in overtime against the Capitals to secure the EIHL title. Considering how good that line was together for the Bison and how well they’d served our club, it was a great moment to watch the three of them win some silverware together albeit in the wrong colours. If nothing else, the look on the faces of the three of them when they entered the bar at Murrayfield and saw one lone nutter in a Bison jersey (my 2006 Owen playoff jersey on orders of the stag and best man) in the midst of the celebrations was priceless. In the midst of it all, Greg took a few moments to have a chat to me and I mentioned it was a shame that he never got the chance to win a league title with the Bison. Given who Sheppard’s announced so far, that chance might finally be coming.

Welcome back Greg, at least the commute will be easier.

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