‘Back to work’ is message ahead of Pirates visit

‘Back to work’ is message ahead of Pirates visit

Tigers coach Tom Watkins will warn his young players to earn their place in the side against Hull Pirates at Telford Ice Rink on Sunday night.

The new EPL champions take on a Pirates outfit still jostling for position in the end-of-season play-offs, which start later this month.

Last weekend’s title victory means Watkins could afford to give his youngsters extra ice time, as preparations for the tournament step up a gear.

But with an eleven-game winning run to protect, he will demand a continuation of that title-winning form.

He said: “At this time of the year, there are more chances for young players to get ice time, but they have to grasp those opportunities when they come along.

“They’ve got to earn those chance. They have to come into work, into practice, not quit on drills or take the lazy option.

“Everything thing needs to be done at 100 per cent intensity and with full commitment to the team.”

Hull could be one of those teams that Telford face in the play-offs, with a number of permutations still to be played out over coming weeks.

But Watkins has already planned ahead for any variation of the two four-team quarter-final groups.

He added: “I’m looking, of course, but I’m not paying a huge amount of attention to specific teams. We’ve got video from throughout the season so we’re prepared.

“There isn’t a huge amount of time to prepare, but we’re now looking ahead a game every week, which is not something we would normally do.

“There is a lot of planning for the play-offs. With the title in the bag, we want to keep this streak going.

“The guys are on a good roll, they’re playing good hockey and even when they’re not, they’re doing enough to win.

“We want to keep that going until the end of the year.”

Telford will receive the EPL trophy from EIHA officials after their game against Guildford Flames on March 12th.

The enormity of that win is still sinking in for Watkins, who was straight back to work – and planning for the play-offs – this week.

“I had some recovery time, but now it is a case of taking stock and moving on,” he said.

“We need to plan for the next phase of the season. It was a great achievement, but we have a big game this weekend, in front of a very good fan base.

“We’ve still got goals to aim for and I we owe it to the fans to work hard and keep our good habits. We’re still in the middle of a very busy season.”

Sunday’s game against Hull Pirates, at Telford Ice Rink, starts at 6pm. For tickets, go to www.tigershockeyuk.com.