Tigers to learn lessons of Blaze defeat

Photo by Scott Wiggins.

The Tigers will be looking to reap the rewards of Wednesday night’s clash with Coventry Blaze when they face Manchester Phoenix this weekend.

The county men put on a brave display to go down 4-2 at the Skydome Arena, as they continue to prepare for their EPL title defence.

That pre-season programme includes the visit of Manchester in the Red Hockey Cup on Saturday, with a return game in Deeside the next day.

But with his side missing Jason Silverthorn, Jonathan Weaver, Joe Miller and Phil Hill in Coventry, Watkins was proud of their efforts against the EIHL play-off champions.

He said: “It was a very good experience and test for the guys to play a team from the higher level. Everything happens a little bit quicker and plays are sharper.

“Our lads will now realise that they need to spend a little less time on the puck to get bigger rewards. We were missing four players tonight, but the guys worked really hard.

“They applied themselves very well and it was an excellent workout at this stage of the season.”

Wednesday’s game saw Coventry establish an early 2-0 lead, although a second period strike from Dan Davies evened up proceedings.

The hosts again doubled their advantage later in the game, as their EIHL pedigree began to show.

But Telford finished the game on top, after Rick Plant added his side’s second goal with two minutes remaining.

Watkins said: “Hopefully, we can take the higher pace of this match into the Manchester games this weekend. We’ll learn from how we played tonight.

“I want to see us play at a higher speed and keep moving the puck quicker. We’ll need to know our roles and routes in all situations.”

Telford’s imports – Peter Szabo, Max Birbraer and Martin  Ondrej – were particularly impressive against Coventry, who have twelve foreign-born players in their ranks.

Watkins added: “I think our best players tonight were our imports, as they know this level and know what to expect. Peter, Max and Martin had very strong games.

“Thomas Murdy made some excellent saves and the whole squad will have taken a lot out of the game. We know what we’ve got to do, to be better as a team.”

The Tigers return to pre-season action in the Red Hockey Cup this weekend, when they welcome Manchester Phoenix to Telford Ice Rink on Saturday (6pm).

They then travel Manchester’s temporary Deeside home for the return game just 24 hours later.

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