Supporters have not seen their team in action in person since winning an NIHL double in the 2019/20 season – 18 months ago.
But they were back on Sunday – and Watkins hailed their return, despite not being able to give them a victory, instead going down 3-2 to the Knights.
“It was a pleasure to be back playing at home and great to see so many fans and friends in the rink,” said Watkins, whose side won 4-3 at Sheffield the day before. “We felt the pace during the game and made some tired plays and it was evident where Leeds are as a team in terms of fitness and game time as they are a few weeks ahead of us.
“The team worked hard and stuck at it and as with the game in Sheffield on Saturday, I felt the third period was our best.
“It’s very early days and as they say Rome wasn’t built in a day, but it was just good to be able to play again in front of our fans.”
The Knights, who recently changed their name from Leeds Chiefs, featured a number of recent Tigers players – Brandon Whistle, Ross Kennedy, netminder Sam Gospel, Sam Zajac, Cole Shudra and Kieran Brown.
Tigers iced Jack Hopkins for his first game since joining from Nottingham Panthers and also saw net minder Jordan Lawday make his first appearance.