Watkins: Home form the key for Tigers

Watkins: Home form the key for Tigers

Play-off schedule – Wed 22nd – Guildford (H), Sat 25th – Peterborough (H), Sun 26th – Sheffield (A), Wed 29th – Guildford (A), Sat 1st – Peterborough (A), Sun 2nd – Sheffield (H)

Tigers coach Tom Watkins paid tribute to his side’s record of just one home loss all season, as they rounded off their league campaign with a 3-1 win over Milton Keynes Lightning.

Victory at Telford Ice Rink on Sunday night was the Tigers’ sixteenth in a row in all competitions, a run that saw them finish the year twelve points clear in first place.

The newly-crowned English Premier League champions now go on to play Guildford Flames at home this Wednesday, as attention turns to the play-off series.

And Watkins was quick to praise his troops’ efforts across a testing league season.

He said: “Home form is absolutely massive and I don’t think I have ever been part of a team that has only lost at home once all season. It is a phenomenal record and a great achievement.

“To back that up with just five regulation losses and a couple of overtime ones is fantastic. We top scored in the league again, so that’s three seasons in a row we’ve done that.

“Fans want to see teams that score a lot of goals and I like the fact that we have added offensive play alongside a solid defence.”

Sunday’s encounter saw Telford take the lead after just three minutes, thanks to a goal from captain Jason Silverthorn.

Milan Kolena doubled the hosts’ advantage at the halfway point of the second period, as they took a firm grip on proceedings.

And it was Rick Plant who appeared to have sealed victory at the end of the session, giving Telford a three-goal cushion.

The Lightning, however, hit back in the middle of a hotly-contested final period with a strike from Mikolaj Lopuski.

But some fine defensive work from Telford closed down the Milton Keynes attack and handed coach Tom Watkins that sixteenth successive win.

Watkins added: “I thought we were really good tonight and took some good opportunities to score. Their netminder, who doesn’t play very often, was excellent tonight.

“To only lose once at home, like I said, is a fantastic record. After everything the guys have been through, they kept their standards up there and kept on picking up wins.

“We were a bit lucky at times tonight and Milton Keynes hit the post on a couple of occasions. It was a shame we got ourselves on that five on three, but we’ll learn from that and we’re now able to look forward to the play-offs.”

For tickets to Wednesday night’s game against Guildford Flames, at Telford Ice Rink, go to www.tigershockeyuk.com.

Telford also play Peterborough Phantoms and Sheffield Steeldogs in their four-team play-off group over the next two weeks.