Tigers set for return to ‘normality’
Tigers coach Tom Watkins is relishing a return to normality for his men, as they shake off the controversy of the EPL Cup and return to league action this weekend.
Telford, who lead the EPL standings by five points from Milton Keynes, crashed out of the league cup at the semi-final stage last week, despite beating Peterborough 9-6 over two legs.
But with the Lighting still having a game in hand over the Tigers, Watkins’ focus will return to league points against Swindon Wildcats on Saturday, ahead of Sunday’s visit of Bracknell Bees.
He said: “It was certainly a good weekend in terms of performance, but for ourselves it is a case of just getting back to the normality of being a hockey team, and take the other things out of our mind.
“We’re getting back to doing video regularly, getting some high intensity training sessions done and just doing things with good habits and good intentions in mind.
“We played pretty strong offensively last week and were solid defensively. I liked the look of our powerplay across the weekend and our penalty killing has been performing well.
“But you’re only one game away from a loss, so you’ve got to turn up every day. The team that works the hardest, the team that is most committed will generally on the day get the bounces.”
Telford welcomed GB defenceman Jonathan Weaver back into the line-up last week, following a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
Weaver had been out of the squad since November, after he was hit in the face by a puck against Manchester Phoenix.
Watkins added: “Jonathan has been out for eight weeks and he came back in for two really big games last week. Every day he is feeling a bit more comfortable.
“It isn’t easy to come back after being out for so long, but Jonathan is a quality player. You can see the things he does that really help, on the back end, the transition, the powerplay.
“He is an experienced body who we lean on pretty heavily.”
Weaver’s absence – and departure of Dan Scott in December – has given Adam Jones and Danny Rose a chance to stake their claims in the Tigers defence.
And the Telford boss has been impressed by their contributions.
“Having the experience of guys like Jon, in the room and in key situations during games, is good,” Watkins said.
“But that isn’t to take anything away from the other guys, who have done a fantastic job for the team.
“Players like Adam and Danny have really benefitted from the extra responsibility and the extra ice time.
“I have been impressed by both of them. Our defence and netminding this year has been excellent.”
Tomorrow’s game against Swindon Wildcats, at the Link Centre starts at 5.45pm. Sunday’s meeting with Bracknell Bees, at Telford Ice Rink, faces off at 6pm. For tickets, go to www.tigershockeyuk.com.