“Different mood” is Sam’s scheme for success

Tigers defenceman Sam Zajac insists his overtime winner against Swindon Wildcats on Sunday was just reward for a string of dominant performances from the EPL champions.

Zajac was on hand to snatch a dramatic goal on 61 minutes, after his side relinquished a one-goal advantage in the second period.

The hosts were again the dominant side, outshooting Swindon by 49 shots to just 21, but they were unable to find a way past netminder Stevie Lyle.

Zajac believes that late strike was a reflection of a “different mood” within the Tigers changing room, following weeks of commanding encounters.

He said: “Sunday was a much more confident performance than the win against Bracknell the previous week, and when Jonathan Weaver comes back it will tighten up a bit more.

“There was a different mood in the changing room from the off. Against Guildford the night before, our performance should have been enough to win the game.

“But we didn’t quite get over the line in that game on Saturday, which has kind of been the story of our season so far.

“We came in quite buoyant against Swindon and played a lot looser than we have in the last few weeks. That showed in the way we played offensively.”

The 26-year-old’s winning goal was assisted by Slovakian strike star Peter Szabo – and he admitted having second thoughts about taking the shot himself.

He added: “The first thought I had was to give the puck back to Peter! Luckily, I’d had a lot chances in the game, so I thought I’d get it in there.

“We dominated most of the last period and then overtime, so it was good to see it cross the line.”

Zajac was also praised for his fitness by head coach Tom Watkins, after playing virtually non-stop for the final six minutes of the game.

The double-winner believes strength and conditioning is a key part of any player’s arsenal in this year’s competitive English Premier League.

“Everyone works on fitness and it’s not like a few years ago, when players would go out and drink all week,” Zajac said.

“The whole team is in the gym five days a week, on the ice four days, and then there’s two games at the weekend.

“Health is a big part of the sport these days anyone who isn’t fit enough will get found out pretty quickly.”

The Tigers EPL have two away games this weekend, when they travel to face Swindon on Saturday, before a trip to Peterborough Phantoms the next day.

The club’s NIHL youngsters are in home action on Saturday, however, when they host Billingham Stars at Telford Ice Rink (5.30pm).

You may also like...