Watkins can’t wait for Coventry clash

Tigers chief Tom Watkins will take his EPL champions to face Coventry Blaze tonight– winners of last season’s Elite League play-offs.

The two teams meet at Coventry’s Skydome Arena for the latest encounter in Telford’s pre-season schedule, with the EPL season just ten days away.

Watkins will be hoping for a more productive run out, following Sunday’s bruising clash with Bracknell Bees in the Red Hockey Cup.

And he expects Coventry to offer an intense examination of his side’s potential.

He said: “Getting ready for Coventry is now our priority for the start of this week. For our guys, it is another level and another speed, so we’ve got to match that.

“We have got to up our level and our intensity against a team like the Blaze. We were a bit sloppy on Sunday night, so we’ve got to make sure we don’t turn the puck over in key areas.

“They are a quality hockey team, having won the Elite League play-offs last season. Any mistakes we make will be punished straight away.”

The county men trained twice a day last week, alongside sessions in the gym, in preparation for the defence of their EPL crown and British Challenge Cup title.

Watkins added: “Playing these games is very important, not just for the start of the season, but throughout the year. It means we hit the ground running and that is crucial.

“I don’t want the guys to be playing catch-up in the middle of December, just because we didn’t prepare properly. That will damage our long-term prospects.

“Fitness is always important, so I want to make sure the players have the best possible preparation. Playing Coventry is part of that plan.”

Following tonight’s game, Telford face Manchester Phoenix this weekend, once again in the Red Hockey Cup.

The home leg is on Saturday night (6pm), before a return meeting at Manchester’s temporary Deeside home the next evening.

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