Watkins salutes his players after title win
“A remarkable achievement” – those were the words of coach Tom Watkins, after Telford Tigers were crowned English Premier League champions on Saturday night.
The county men sealed their second title in three years with a 7-3 win over Bracknell Bees, while second-placed Milton Keynes Lightning lost to Swindon Wildcats.
And after watching his players secure top spot with a virtuoso third period performance, Watkins paid tribute to their efforts over a testing 2016/17 campaign.
He said: “It was a tough game, but tonight it’s all about Telford Tigers and a remarkable achievement by a fantastic group of guys.
“The fans were great tonight as well. The noise in the rink was absolutely phenomenal and the atmosphere was excellent.
“I can’t fault the boys at all over the season and especially during October and November, when it could have been a different story.
“But the team spirit, support and belief has been fantastic.
“I’ve got to salute the new ownership for coming in and taking it on at a really difficult time. The boys have been fantastic all season.”
The game started with a goal for Bracknell, however, on just 13 minutes, although Telford equalised within seconds, thanks to Corey McEwen.
The visitors added a second at the start of the second period, although the Tigers again equalised within minutes, this time through Milan Kolena.
Two goals at the midway point of the game, from Jason Silverthorn and Gareth O’Flaherty, gave the hosts some breathing space, but Bracknell hit back on 34 minutes.
The final session saw Telford secure victory – and the EPL title with a hat trick from forward Doug Clarkson.
Watkins added: “We put a good shift in tonight, especially in the third period. Bracknell battled hard and made it tough for us.
“They made it hard for us, but in the end the third period was the difference.
“We were looking at the Milton Keynes score during the period breaks and Les kept us informed, so we knew what was going on.”
The Tigers take on Bracknell Bees, in Bracknell, on Sunday night, before they host Hull Pirates at Telford Ice Rink on March 5th (6pm). For tickets, go to www.tigershocketuk.com.