Mike makes Moralee start for Tigers NIHL

Tigers NIHL General Manager Mike Washburn wants his side to become a challenger for honours during next season’s Moralee Conference campaign.

The county men were promoted from the Laidler Conference earlier this year, following a remarkable second-placed finish in their first season.

That was followed by a nail-biting play-off final defeat to runaway league champions Solihull Barons, as Telford ended the year on a high.

They will face a tougher set of opponents next season, but Washburn will place his faith in much of the squad that finished as runners-up.

He said: “People said at the start of last season that we wouldn’t do very well and we proved them wrong. I want us to do that again.

“Of course, it will be much more difficult to win as regularly as we did last year, but we’ll be there, competing. I would like to think we can push the top teams all the way.

“I am a realist, of course, so we need to strengthen this summer and make the most of the talent we already have. We are standing by our pledge to develop and use the players from last season.

“This team is part of a bigger set-up that also includes the club’s EPL side, so giving guys the opportunity to take advantage of that and progress is a major part of our overall strategy.”

The Tigers NIHL will face teams such as Whitley Warriors next season, who have signed experienced duo David Longstaff and Andre Payette.

“We must remember that this is a development league and we will be treating it as such,” Washburn added.

“That means giving the youngsters a chance to impress and progress. The guys who played for us last season did that and we have to build on their success. They are a big part of the squad.”

Other opponents include champions Blackburn Hawks and high-flying Billingham Stars, alongside Scottish outfit, Solway Sharks.

Washburn said: “This summer has been tremendously exciting, in terms of signing players and preparing for the new season.

“The guys are really looking forward to getting back on the ice and doing what they do best. They’re not scared of anyone and that is a great way to start the season.

“Nobody is going to back away from a challenge, a hit, or even a dust up. We’re aiming to be a team that nobody else wants to play.”

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