Watkins: ‘Win first – then the trophy’

Watkins: ‘Win first – then the trophy’

Tigers coach Tom Watkins is looking forward to lifting the English Premier League trophy on Sunday – but he delivered a timely warning to keep his side’s winning run on track.

The county men will be presented with the EPL trophy after Sunday’s game against Guildford at Telford Ice Rink, with a trip to face Sheffield also on the agenda for Saturday.

That title success has been partly due to a run of only one home defeat this season, alongside a winning streak in the league that now stretches back to the end of January.

And with the play-offs due to start later this month, Watkins called for a professional approach from his players.

He said: “Of course it will be fun to lift the trophy. That sort of thing is always nice and I want to make sure all the guys and supporters enjoy themselves on Sunday evening.

“But the important thing to remember is there are two games to be won this weekend. I don’t want the guys to get away from that, and with the professionalism in the squad, I don’t think we’ll do that.

“I am sure the boys will enjoy themselves, and then it has got to be about getting back to work.

“I don’t want teams to come here thinking they can get something out of a game. We want to win the game and then lift the trophy. Otherwise, it would not feel right.”

Watkins will also start to turn his attention to the play-offs, which get under way after next weekend’s final regular season encounter with Milton Keynes Lightning.

With the league trophy now secure, he wants his men to continue fulfilling their potential in the end-of-year tournament.

He added: “The play-offs are the prize at the end of the year and you have the whole summer to either bathe in that success, or look at reasons why and feel the disappointment.

“We want to finish this season in the way we deserve, but you have to earn it. The only way to do that is by sacrificing individual goals and targets for the team collective.

“It’s not one guy who wins the play-off series, but everybody on the team. Everybody has got to contribute, on and off the ice, and when you do that it is a special achievement.”

Sunday’s game against Guildford Flames, at Telford Ice Rink, faces off at 6pm. For tickets, go to www.tigershockeyuk.com.