Tigers to launch defence of EPL title triumph

Tom Watkins believes extra size and strength could prove to be a major asset in The Tigers’ defence of their English Premier League crown this season.

Telford return to league action this weekend when they travel to Sheffield Steeldogs on Saturday, before the visit of Swindon Wildcats on Sunday (6pm).

The addition of Phil Hill and Vladimir Kutny will give The Tigers further strength up front, as they combat an improved line-up of opponents in the EPL.

And Watkins expects that emphasis on size to prove crucial over the next eight months.

He said: “I think the biggest thing for us this season is the size of our squad. We are a lot fitter after the summer and the two new guys are both 6ft 3”.

“The size of our rink will also help us, and we’ll have extra strength on the puck. We should be able to retain possession and be a bit more physical.

“In terms of the game, we have good speed and seem to have improved in that area. The guys we have are hard to play against and perhaps where we don’t have speed, we have strength.”

Saturday night’s trip to Sheffield will see Telford face a familiar-looking Steeldogs line-up, albeit without talismanic coach, Andre Payette.

Watkins added: “Sheffield have got a few new faces and one new import, but also a lot of returning players. They have quite a few good, solid British players.

“The new faces are mainly younger guys, so we will give them the respect they deserve. Any team with an import netminder will be tough to beat.”

On Sunday evening, meanwhile, Swindon will pose an equally big threat, following a pre-season campaign that saw them thrash Bracknell Bees 12-2.

“Swindon have got very good netminding and four big import forwards,” Watkins said.

“No matter how much possession you have, they’ve still got that explosive scoring threat. In Aaron Nell, Swindon have a standout British player at this level.

“They can score out of nothing, so we need to be fully aware of that. We will look at Saturday first, and then Sunday, to make sure we have a good start to the league.”

Sunday’s clash with Swindon Wildcats, at Telford Ice Rink, faces off at 6pm.

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