Tigers set for Red Hockey Cup battle against Phoenix
The Tigers have been warned they will faceÂ â€œfour exceptional importsâ€ 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 Manchesterâ€™s temporary Deeside home on Sunday.
The games will bring Tom Watkinsâ€™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: â€œIâ€™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.
â€œManchester 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.â€
All four of Manchesterâ€™s imports –Â Robin Kovar, Michael Satek, Nico Aaltonen and Stanislav Gron â€“ 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 Telfordâ€™s EPL and British Challenge Cup titles.
He added: â€œYou 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.
â€œWe will change the line-up again this weekend.Â Itâ€™s a case of trying to evaluate every game and seeing where the guys fit in for the best for the team.â€
Watkins will also use the experience of Wednesday nightâ€™s encounter with Coventry Blaze, in a bid to find the right balance across his squad.
â€œWe need to execute a little bit better, certainly against teams in our league,â€ he said.
â€œThat is key for every teamÂ on every night. We have a way we want to play, and we have to look to play that way every night.
â€œIâ€™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.â€
Saturday nightâ€™s game, at Telford Ice Rink, starts at 6pm, while on Sunday in Deeside, face-off is at 6.30pm.