Watkins, Parry and Hollyhead set to steer ship in NIHL

The Tigers NIHL will be led by a coaching team of Tom Watkins, Jason Parry and Barry Hollyhead in the Moralee Conference next season.

The trio, who boast extensive experience at all levels of the game, will be looking to guide Telford to a respectable first year after promotion.

Watkins will continue in his role as co-ordinator of the coaching programme, alongside bench coach Parry and netminding / defensive coach Hollyhead.

Last season saw the county men finish second in the Laidler Conference, and Watkins wants his development strategy to continue paying dividends.

He said: “You don’t necessarily have targets for the season, but you do have a plan for the season. Coming up a level, it is hard to accurately judge what the team is capable of.

“For me, player development is very much a priority. First and foremost, that is our biggest goal in anything. It’s a young team and players will be moving up and down between the two rosters.

“We will also be bringing in younger players at the bottom end, so it is about developing players to try and progress into the senior EPL team.”

Hollyhead’s appointment will see him coach the defencemen and netminders on home match nights, while helping out with the EPL side during games at Telford Ice Rink.

That will give the former Milton Keynes netminder a foot in both squads, as the club looks to bring its senior players closer together.

Watkins added: “Barry helps me out tremendously on match days and he’s very aware of situations that occur during games.

“He’ll be a good calming influence on players at NIHL level and allow guys to develop individually. Barry’s presence at home games means he can implement from the EPL to the NIHL level and take the same messages back.”

That close relationship between the two sides will also bring in youngsters from the town’s junior system.

“There will be players on the ice from both groups,” Watkins said.

“Guys will be training up and training down. They should expect that, as part of what they’ve signed up to.

“From the development angle of the NIHL players, it is important that they can carry the speed of the EPL practice and take it to the NIHL practice.

“The guys then start to pull their socks up and play at the higher level, so it all filters down through our under-18s team as well.

“We’ll have some of those players in practice, so they’ll have to re-jig their level. Nobody will be given anything for free, though. Everybody needs to have the ability to fulfill their potential.”

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