Tom hoping to Kolena up with final import
Telford Tigers have completed their English Premier League line-up with the capture of former Slovakia under-20s captain Milan Kolena.
The 22-year-old forward has scored 36 points for his country, including 11 at the World Junior Championships â€“ the highest level for under-20s ice hockey.
He will join a Tigers side that already features three import forwards, as head coach Tom Watkins prepares to launch an all-out assault on the EPL next season.
Watkins said: â€œMilanâ€™s agent happens to be our new netminder, Ondrej Raszka, so once he knew we were looking I had all the stats and looked at his progress from the last couple of years.
â€œI like what I saw. I think we are getting a very talented player. He has a good skill set, good hands, good shot and skates well.
“Weâ€™re getting a young, hungry player who captained his country at the highest possible level and will be coming to Telford eager to prove himself in the EPL.”
Kolena has spent the majority of his career in the Slovakian Extraliga, rated as one of the top leagues in Europe, where he scored 43 points in three seasons.
That potential also saw him enjoy a brief spell in the European KHL, which is seen as second only to the NHL in North America.
Watkins added: â€œMilan will be asked to play 200ft hockey, as will all our guys, and heâ€™ll add some grit to our line-up. He has decent size and will be strong on the puck which is key playing in a small rink.
“He is another guy who has the ability to play centre and wing, which gives us lots of options though the middle of the ice. Something we didn’t have last season.
â€œIâ€™ve watched a lot of video of him and spoken to quite a few people. I think heâ€™s going to be a very exciting player for us.â€
The arrival of Kolena follows last weekâ€™s signing of Great Britain international Matty Davies, giving the Tigers chief extra options in attack for the new EPL campaign.
â€œI had a bit of a dilemma when Matty came in and we could have gone for either a defenceman or forward as the final import,â€ Watkins said.
â€œBut having a defenceman would make some of line changes difficult at times. I think having four import forwards will give us lots of different looks offensively and give us a scoring threat across all our lines.
“We have lots of depth giving us competition for places, guys will have to turn up and work every practice and game. That’s great for the team and fans.”
To purchase Milan Kolenaâ€™s own and loan shirt for just ï¿¡100, or to become an equipment sponsor from just ï¿¡5, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Telford Tigers start their pre-season with a trip to face Milton Keynes Lighting on August 27th, before the return game in Telford just 24 hours later.
On September 3rd they visit Hull Pirates, ahead of a home encounter against Hull the next day.
They start their league campaign away to reigning champions Basingstoke Bison on September 10th, with their first home league game scheduled for September 11th, against Manchester Phoenix.