Tigers granted tough league opener

Telford Tigers will start their English Premier League campaign away to champions Basingstoke Bison on September 10th – before a mouth-watering clash at home to Manchester Phoenix the next day.

A tough start to the season will also see them face play-off and EPL cup winners Guildford Flames in Surrey on September 17th, ahead of an expected physical home encounter with Sheffield Steeldogs 24 hours later.

A summer of changes at Telford Ice Rink will see a new-look Tigers side next season – new arrivals include Polish international netminder Ondrej Raszka, alongside forwards Doug Clarkson and Michal Satek.

But with no single side having been installed as favourites for EPL silverware, Tigers CEO Matt Bowyer is looking forward to a competitive start to the year.

He said: “The standard of this league has been getting better every season, and I expect next year to continue that trend. Playing teams like Basingstoke and Manchester in our first weekend is an excellent way to get started.

“Whatever team we play, it will be tough and probably quite physical from the very start. There have been a lot of changes across the league this summer and everyone will want to make their mark.

“It is always exciting when the fixtures come out, as it means the long haul of the summer is over and we can get on with the season.”

A relatively quiet festive period will see the Tigers play just one game between mid December and early January, with the visit of Hull Pirates scheduled for New Years Day.

The end-of-season play-offs, meanwhile, have been changed to a six-game series ahead of the Coventry tournament, with teams to be drawn in two groups of four.

Bowyer added: “The team that our coach Tom Watkins is putting together for next season will be much bigger physically, which on our smaller ice pad will give us a good home advantage. That should also make for some very entertaining matches.

“It is only a few weeks until the team start pre-season training, so all the guys are hitting the gym and making sure they’re in good shape for when they report back here.

“Tom always has the same expectations of his team before the start of a new season, and he will make sure every player shares in those targets.”

Telford also play Milton Keynes Lightning in pre-season friendlies on August 27th and 28th, and then Hull Pirates on September 3rd and 4th.

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