Tom Watkins: Telford Tigers win was fortunate
Honest head coach Tom Watkins admits Telford Tigers were fortunate to record an overtime win over Hull Pirates.
Tigers bounced back from losing 5-0 at Sheffield Steeldogs on Saturday, a result that knocked them off the top of the NIHL Moralee Conference.
But Watkins admitted his side were lucky to prevail 5-4 after a penalty shootout against Hull in Shropshire on Sunday.
Watkins said: “I’m pleased to rebound with a win after Saturday night’s poor performance, although I thought we were very fortunate to take the win.
“Hovy (Thomas Hovell) and Scott (McKenzie) were huge for us in the shootout and credit to those guys.
“I felt we started well and played some good hockey in the first period, answering back quickly after Hull scored the first goal of the night was crucial for our belief.
“After that we struggled to manage the puck, sustain offensive pressure and grind them down.
“Hull played two lines of forwards for nearly two periods and continued to play with energy and speed. We didn’t take advantage at all of this and couldn’t up our tempo, despite continuing to roll three lines for the rest of the night which was frustrating. A win is a win, but we need to improve, it’s a big let-off for us.”
Tigers were without Dan Mitchell and Sam Gospel but were able to add Denis Bell to the line-up as back-up to netminder Hovell.
Jack Watkins had an early opportunity for Tigers but his shot from close range was blocked by Hull netminder Bradley Day.
Hull had a great chance for a three on one break but poor passing let them down, allowing Jonathan Weaver to make a stick check and prevent a shot.
Tigers then had two great opportunities, both Joe Aston and Jason Silverthorn went clear on goal but hit their shots straight at Day.
Tigers conceded a goal in the 15th minute which had an element of deja vu from the opening goal against Sheffield the previous evening. as Pirates’ Jason Hewitt hit a shot that was going wide but hit the skate of Jack Watkins and landed in the perfect position for James Archer to shoot in. Tigers responded in the perfect fashion by equalising within a minute. Doug Clarkson collected a pass from Adam Taylor, outmuscled two defenders and hammered a shot past Day.
The hosts were then given a power play when Hull’s Aaron Lyon was called for roughing. A minute in, Weaver found Clarkson in the left circle allowing Clarkson to strike past Day to give Tigers the lead.
As the period entered the final minute, Tigers were again given a power play after Hull’s Kevin Phillips committed a tripping penalty.
Tigers needed just nine seconds to score their third goal. Weaver’s shot was too powerful for Day to hold on to, leaving McKenzie to fire in the rebound.
The second period started badly for Tigers with McKenzie taking a hooking penalty. Early in the power play Hull’s James Archer hit the crossbar with a wrist shot.
Tigers’ luck didn’t last long though as Hull recycled the puck and found Sonny Karlsson, who was unmarked in the left circle and fired in to cut the deficit.
Former Tigers player Lubomir Korhon then had a breakaway chance to level the score but shot wide. Tigers punished this miss with the next goal of the game. Andy McKinney showed great desire to win the puck at the side of the Hull goal and pass across to the unmarked Jack Watkins who tapped in Tigers’ fourth of the game.
The final goal of a thrilling period was scored by Hull in the 33rd minute. Poor defending by Tigers gave the puck away on their own blue line, leaving Korhon a free shot at the goal and this time he made no mistake with a low shot past Hovell.
Just as Hull had scored early in the second period, they did so again in the third period when Korhon led a two-on-one breakaway and passed to Lee Bonner who scored with a neat finish.
Both teams pushed hard for the winner with Tigers going closest when Joe Hazeldine’s shot was tipped by Silverthorn on to the crossbar.
Neither team could score in the remainder of the period meaning the game would go to sudden death overtime.
In the five minute overtime period, both teams almost got the winner.
James Chilcott went closest for Hull but was denied by Hovell while Weaver worked a great opportunity with Silverthorn but shot inches wide.
The game ended 4-4 after overtime, which resulted in penalty shots to decide the game. McKenzie scored first for Tigers with a wrist shot past Day. Bonner was then robbed by a terrific glove save by Hovell.
Clarkson missed for Tigers, followed by a miss from Hull’s Hewitt. Silverthorn had a chance to win the game but his shot was saved by Day’s pads.
Korhon took Hull’s last penalty shot and needed to score to extend the shoot out, which he did with a low finish.
McKenzie stepped up again and scored for Tigers with a terrific shot between the legs of Day. Karlsson went next for Hull and was denied by Hovell as Tigers claimed the win.