Telford Tigers put in a stellar second period performance to beat Peterborough Phantoms 7-0 in the EPL play-offs on Saturday night.
Victory at Telford Ice Rink opened the Tigers’ account in the end-of-season competition, following a midweek 3-0 loss to Guildford Flames.
They now go on to face Sheffield Steeldogs in Yorkshire on Sunday, as they seek to clinch a spot at the finals tournament next month.
Tigers head coach Tom Watkins, who watched his men score seven goals in the middle session, said: “We were great in the second period tonight and to give up just two or three shots during that time showed it was pretty much one-way traffic.
“I think we became a little complacent in the third period and stopped playing a bit. But we just said to the guys to keep the good habits that gave us as edge.
“I was pleased that Jon got his shut-out and overall it was a great return by the boys from that loss in the week.”
Neither side troubled the scorers during the opening session on Saturday night, with Telford recording just seven shots on Phantoms netminder Janis Auzins.
That changed after the interval, however, when Corey McEwen struck for the hosts on 23 minutes.
A Rick Plant deflection doubled that lead just four minutes later, before Doug Clarkson added a third at the halfway point of the game.
Plant’s second of the night – a fine wraparound effort – then gave Telford a four-goal advantage on 33 minutes.
Defenceman Jonathan Weaver found himself on the scoresheet just two minutes later, when his cheeky deflection off Auzin’s helmet found a way into the Peterborough net.
That strike saw Auzins removed from the game, although replacement Adam Long couldn’t stop Doug Clarkson from adding a sixth for Telford on 39 minutes.
And Weaver rounded off the Tigers scoring just moments later, ahead of a relatively quiet final session.
Watkins added: “Janis is a good netminder, so you’ve always got to fight hard to create something against Peterborough.
“When you get a quick run of goals, it is a massive momentum lift and we said at the end of the game how it changed our mindset.
“Play-off hockey is often very scrappy and nobody wants to make a mistake, so you need to commit to making hits. We did a good job of that tonight.”
Telford travel to face Sheffield Steeldogs on Sunday, before Wednesday night’s encounter with Guildford Flames in Surrey.
The Tigers then make the trip to Peterborough next Saturday, ahead a closing game against Sheffield at Telford Ice Rink on April 2nd.
Just two teams will qualify from the four-team group, winning the right to face the other two semi-finalists in Coventry on April 8th and 9th.