Telford Tigers had a first period goal blitz to thank for their 8-3 win over Sheffield Steeldogs in the EPL play-offs on Sunday night.
Victory at Ice Sheffield means the Tigers remain in contention for a top-two spot in their four-team group, and a place at the finals tournament next month.
Five goals in the opening 20 minutes laid the groundwork for victory on Sunday, as Telford gave their Yorkshire hosts few opportunities to hit back.
Tigers coach Tom Watkins, who watched his men beat Peterborough 7-0 the night before, said: “It was a good four points overall this weekend and obviously needed after dropping two points at home to Guildford in midweek.
“We have shut teams out in one period over the last two games, but we’ve got to play for the 60 minutes.
“We’ll come up against some good teams who will make it hard for those 60 minutes and we have to make sure we play well for three periods.
“It was nice to get in front and play with a lead tonight. But I do feel we took our foot off the gas again, and we have to keep ploughing ahead.”
The first period at Ice Sheffield saw Telford get off to a good start after just two minutes, as Jason Silverthorn latched onto a pass in front of the net to open the scoring.
That advantage was doubled two minutes later, thanks to a well-worked goal from Corey McEwen, following a pass from Matty Davies.
The Tigers found themselves 3-0 up on the eight minute mark, when Doug Clarkson scored with a long-range shot through a crowded goalmouth.
Defenceman Sam Zajac added a fourth goal on twelve minutes with his own long-range effort, and then a fifth with a similar strike just four minutes later.
Watkins added: “I am really pleased with how we played in the first period and we were clinical with all our scoring opportunities.
“It was kind of a different game in the second and third periods, and we were able to use that advantage the first period gave us.
“It wasn’t the best overall performance tonight, but we were excellent in the first period.”
The second session was a much more even-handed affair, as the Steeldogs hit back with their first goal of the game on 21 minutes by Arnoldas Bosas.
The visitors struck again just 60 seconds later, however, thanks to Jonathan Weaver’s cool finish to a sweeping Tigers passing move.
Milan Kolena was on target from close range to score Telford’s seventh on 38 minutes, while the Steeldogs added their second of the night at the end of the period through Macaulay Heywood.
The final session was again even-handed, with the Steeldogs adding a third on 49 minutes, courtesy of Stanislav Lascek, before Corey McEwen rounded off the scoring for Telford with a late breakaway goal.
The EPL champions now go on to play Guildford Flames in Surrey on Wednesday, before games against Peterborough Phantoms and the Steeldogs next weekend.
“It is another huge game on Wednesday night,” Watkins said.
“Guildford are a team with the experience and ability to do well in these play-offs. I think they are dark horses.”
Next Sunday’s return game against the Steeldogs, at Telford Ice Rink, faces off at 6pm. For tickets, go to www.tigershockeyuk.com.