Tigers fall foul of semi-final ruling to lose in EPL Cup
Tigers coach Tom Watkins branded the EPL Cup semi-final format as “ridiculous” after his side crashed out against Peterborough Phantoms – despite beating them 9-6 overall.
A breathless encounter on Sunday night saw Telford beat the visitors 7-2, giving them an aggregate victory in terms of goals, although they were eventually eliminated after penalty shots.
A new ruling – introduced by league bosses this season – gives the winner of each tie two points, meaning Peterborough progress to the final after their 4-2 victory in the first leg last week.
Watkins, who has been a vocal critic of the ruling since it was introduced, said: “It is ridiculous that the best team over two legs has gone out of the competition. Again the league are coming out with these rules.
“I don’t know in what other country they would play to this system. I really don’t know what to say, or tell the players.
“We played excellent hockey and were outstanding tonight. Peterborough couldn’t get close to us. We were excellent in every department and to decide a game like that, I just don’t get it.
“I would love someone to explain to me why that is. It is very frustrating, being here in this situation, when the best team has definitely gone out of the cup.
“Surely you want the best teams playing in the final.”
The game started with Telford taking a three-goal lead within the first 14 minutes, thanks to strikes from Adam Taylor, Milan Kolena and Doug Clarkson.
Peterborough hit back at the start of the second session, but the Tigers regained their three-goal advantage through Jason Silverthorn at the halfway point of the game.
Silverthorn scored again before the end of the period, as the hosts dominated proceedings.
Further strikes from Lubomir Korhon and Silverthorn – and a second from Peterborough – gave Telford victory over 60 minutes.
And with neither side scoring in overtime, the Phantoms took victory with a dramatic penalty shot winner.
Watkins added: “The third period was a non-event. It sounds like we’re moaning, but we played a great game of hockey tonight.
“We won the game convincingly, we won across the aggregate convincingly, so we’re gutted for the players.
“They have worked tirelessly, through difficult circumstances this week, and everything that has been thrown at them previously.
“These guys have got huge character and they don’t deserve to be out of the cup. But rules are rules.”
Peterborough now play Milton Keynes Lightning in next month’s final.
The Tigers return to action next weekend, when they travel to Swindon on Saturday, before Sunday’s visit of Bracknell Bees to Telford Ice Rink (6pm).