Watkins wants patience against Phoenix

Tigers coach Tom Watkins will call for patience from his side in Saturday night’s encounter with a short-handed Manchester Phoenix outfit.

The county men face Manchester at Telford Ice Rink (6pm) in a repeat of their opening league fixture, which the Tigers won 4-1.

The Phoenix are likely to once again sport a shortened bench, with just 14 players permanently signed up to their squad.

But Watkins, who has up to 20 players at his disposal after the midweek addition of Sam Oakford, will take a long-term view of the game.

He said: “It was tough the last time we played Manchester. They got the goal at the start and the fact that they’re shorthanded means their best players are always on the ice. Those guys they have in the squad are no slouches at all.

“There’s some quality defencemen and good, solid British guys. They have good netminding and their imports are good, so you always have to be on your guard.

“One of the things we have got to do is get out first and I think if you get a lead first, then teams have to play a bit differently and open up a lot more. That way you can start to punish mistakes.

“I think patience is absolutely a key part in games. If we start to get frustrated, then teams start to get the upper hand mentally. Likewise, if we can get on a team early and take a lead, other teams get frustrated.”

Sunday will see Telford face an unknown for this season when they travel to play Peterborough Phantoms – a side that has lost three games already this year.

Watkins added: “We just need to turn up and play the way we want to. We’ll be coming in blind, but we have to approach it and focus on our own performance.

“It’s small ice there and things happen fast, so we’ve got to be on our toes and be prepared to battle. A lot of times we’ve been there and caught off our guard, so that’s a must.”

New signing Oakford, meanwhile, is likely to line up alongside Danny Rose in the Telford rearguard.

“Our defensive pairings are playing pretty well,” Watkins said.

“Scotty are Jonesy are are doing a very solid job together and Sam has been playing well alongside Corey and Warren.

“I think it will benefit Danny Rose massively, having Sam Oakford alongside him. Having that communication and experience will be good for him.

“I would like to think that Danny Rose is going to benefit from this move.”

Saturday night’s clash with Manchester Phoenix, at Telford Ice Rink, faces off at 6pm. For tickets, or to purchase a live online stream of the game, go to www.tigershockeyuk.com.

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