Tigers set for Red Hockey Cup battle against Phoenix

The Tigers have been warned they will face “four exceptional imports” when they take on Manchester Phoenix in the Red Hockey Cup this weekend.

Saturday sees the two teams meet at Telford Ice Rink (6pm), before the return game at Manchester’s temporary Deeside home on Sunday.

The games will bring Tom Watkins’s pre-season programme to an end, after he initially gathered his squad together for a training camp three weeks ago.

And with Manchester having beaten highly-rated Swindon Wildcats 6-2 last weekend, Watkins is expecting a tough set of games.

He said: “I’m not surprised at all by Manchester beating Swindon last weekend. It just shows that on their night, any team can beat another at this level.

“Manchester have got one of the best defensive cores in the league and one of the better netminders. They have also got four exceptional imports, so it will be a difficult weekend.”

All four of Manchester’s imports – Robin Kovar, Michael Satek, Nico Aaltonen and Stanislav Gron – netted in that victory over Swindon.

The games will give Watkins a further chance to change the look of his squad, as he prepares to defend Telford’s EPL and British Challenge Cup titles.

He added: “You are always looking for small improvements in the team, with little pairings you like to have. It is an opportunity to find a balance in certain areas.

“We will change the line-up again this weekend. It’s a case of trying to evaluate every game and seeing where the guys fit in for the best for the team.”

Watkins will also use the experience of Wednesday night’s encounter with Coventry Blaze, in a bid to find the right balance across his squad.

“We need to execute a little bit better, certainly against teams in our league,” he said.

“That is key for every team on every night. We have a way we want to play, and we have to look to play that way every night.

 

“I’m asking guys to step up into roles, because of other players missing. The expectation has to be higher than perhaps it was previously, to make sure they get the job done in all areas.”

Saturday night’s game, at Telford Ice Rink, starts at 6pm, while on Sunday in Deeside, face-off is at 6.30pm.

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