Cowley’s a forward, right? Well, up until the end of the season he was and then he appeared on defence for GB in the IHWC. We always knew he had defensive qualities and is a safe pair of hands at both ends, but playing defence full time wasn’t really an option. It is now, that’s for sure, and provides an interesting question as to how the Blaze will be set up for the following season…
1. Cowley plays as a forward
The first option is the obvious one, he comes back and plays in the position listed on the roster, forward. He would likely end up playing most of the time on the 3rd line, probably as a centre as he has done for the past couple of seasons. Obviously he could play up on the top two lines, depending on injuries, penalties etc., but the 3rd line is the most likely destination…
Fulghum – (centre, Carlson?) – Fussey; (winger, Cruikshank?) – Owen – Chambers; Nell – Cowley – (import forward)
Weaver – Lee – Zanon – (import D, Robinson?) – (other D)
If that 3rd line import happens to be a centre, then he could feasibly move back to the wing. The other D could be a Brit or an import, depending on if the Blaze go with 10 or 11 imports. For these examples, we are assuming the Blaze sign an import NM.
2. Cowley plays as a defenceman
This is where it gets interesting. If Cowley assumes that ‘other d’ slot instead, it would make the defence look like:
Weaver – Lee – Zanon – (import D, Robinson?) – Cowley
That therefore allows an extra import for the forward lines instead, which is useful since the number of Brits available is already tight!
Fulghum – (centre, Carlson?) – Fussey; (winger – Cruikshank) – Owen – Chambers; Nell – (import centre) – (import forward)
There is then the flexibility to run with a bigger, more enforcer-esque 3rd line player, because Cowley can step across and play a couple of forward shifts should he be in the box. The scoring options could also be split up across the 3 lines as well; moving Cruikshank on Nell’s line and putting Fussey with Owen & Chambers.
The loss of Tom Watkins to Telford has a huge one, since he could play this switching role. Having the flexibility in the team to cope with “disasters” has always shown to be one of the Blaze’s key points, and Cowley looks to be the way to continue it.