Duo ring in for The Tigers NIHL

Tigers NIHL coach Tom Watkins believes the re-signing of Denis Bell and Brad Betteridge is a “signal of intent” ahead the Moralee Conference campaign.

The pair will return to Telford next season as ‘Prospect Players’, with Watkins predicting a tougher year for his youngsters at the higher level.

Netminder Bell, at just 17, will head into Moralee action full of confidence, after he was named Most Valuable Player at the NIHL side’s end-of-season awards.

And for Betteridge, 16, a second year in Telford will be a chance to better his statistics from last season, when he amassed 45 points in just 23 games.

Watkins said: “Denis had a very strong first season and moving up a level is the best way for him to develop. He is training every day and having that commitment from the guys is a real signal of intent.

“This side is very much about player development, although I am sure the guys will be committed to going all-out and winning.

“Brad is a great young player, but in a few years time we want him to be stronger and ready for the demands of potentially pushing guys out of their spots.”

Betteridge’s remarkable record last year will see him marked out as another Tigers NIHL player to threaten the leading scorer spot.

Adam Taylor, James Smith and Macaulay Heywood will all contribute to a strong attacking line-up – and Watkins wants the youngster to join that trio.

“Brad is an offensively talented player, but he has got to learn to play in all three zones,” he added.

“He needs to learn to play off the puck and when he is on the puck has got to make use of it.

“Brad will have good leadership in guys like Adam Taylor and James Smith in that team, and he will be able to feed off them.”

Mike Washburn, General Manager of The Tigers NIHL, said: “These guys are two great signings for this club – and yet more evidence of how we are standing by, and developing players from the junior system.

“Both are significant assets in their own right and I have no doubt that they will thrive with the talent around them. The roster is shaping up very nicely and there is still a way to go.

“It’s a really interesting journey when you are building for the next three years, rather than just next season.”

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