Tom to take Bees trip in his stride

Note that Saturday’s game will be played at Slough Ice Rink, with a 3pm face-off. This is due to technical issues with Bracknell Ice Rink.

Tigers head coach Tom Watkins will use this weekend’s Red Hockey Cup games with Bracknell Bees as the building blocks towards an EPL title defence.

Telford start the new campaign as double-winners for the first time, after winning both the league and British Challenge Cup last season.

That will mark them out as potential scalps for other teams in the English Premier League, as they look to depose the early season favourites.

But Watkins is relishing the challenge – starting with this weekend’s pre-season encounters.

He said: “In these games, the process is often more important than the result. Of course we want to win, but I would rather see us do the little things well and build on that.

“It is early days and we’ve only been on the ice this week. On saying that, it is nice to get five days of good training under our belts before the first game.

“The guys have built up the chemistry this week and it will be an interesting weekend, with a lot of feedback.”

Telford’s squad has made key advances in terms of fitness this summer, as Watkins looks to combat the threat posed by an improved line-up of opponents.

He added: “First of all, our guys are athletes and they’ve got to compete. If they don’t have the stamina, it makes things much harder. It is a fast and physical sport.

“It is a lifestyle thing as well, and our players make good decisions away from the rink. Most teams at this level are very similar in that approach.”

This weekend’s games will see The Tigers travel to Bracknell on Saturday, before the opening home encounter at Telford Ice Rink on Sunday (6pm).

The Berkshire outfit has a new-look squad for the upcoming campaign, following last season’s dismal finish in last place – 19 points off the pace.

“Bracknell have made a lot of changes during the summer,” Watkins said.

“They’ve got two new imports who will create a big offensive threat, and are well-known throughout the league.

“There are also a couple of new bodies, who are a bit of an unknown, so it is going to be a tough couple of games.”

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