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Mistakes prove costly as gritty Telford Tigers taste defeat

Telford Tigers head coach Tom Watkins was pleased with his teams commitment but says they must ‘iron out’ silly mistakes if they want results to improve.

Telford Tigers celebrate Scott McKenzie’s second goal against Sheffield
Telford Tigers celebrate Scott McKenzie’s second goal against Sheffield

The Tigers fell to a 5-3 defeat as they took on Sheffield Steeldogs in Shropshire looking to build upon a shootout victory they had the previous evening against the Bees.

Telford raced into a two goal lead with Scott McKenzie twice netting past the Steeldog’s keeper Dimitri Zimozdra.

But the visitors fought back, and by the end of the second period they led, Jason Hewitt and Lee Bonner with the goals to draw them level before Alex Graham gave them the lead for the first time in the match.

Brodie Jesson did equalise for Telford, but the visitors scored twice in the final period as Graham completed his hat-trick.

Post match, head coach Watkins, said: “We got a great start which got the fans into the game and the atmosphere was something we haven’t heard for a while. It was felt on the bench and created a lot of energy.

“Unfortunately, not the result we wanted, but it was another gritty performance. The work ethic is there, the commitment is there, but we need to iron out some errors in areas where we can improve, like our puck management and decision making.

“We gave up too many odd man rushes and turned a few pucks over but we are working hard to improve every night and are getting better as a team.”

The Telford Tigers returned to home ice after a terrific penalty shootout victory over Bees the previous evening. The home crowd were able to get their first glimpse of new import signing Rory Herrman, who had scored a terrific goal on his debut for the team. Jonathan Weaver and Ricky Plant were still absent but Gareth O’Flaherty and Tom Carlon joined Herrman in making their first appearance in Telford for the team.

Games between the Tigers and the Steeldogs had been fractious in recent times and this clash would prove to be no different.

The hosts started strongly and took the lead in the opening five minutes, Fin Howells’ shot from the right circle rebounded off Dimitri Zimozdra in the Sheffield goal and hit McKenzie before going in.

Shortly after Tigers had a second. Great work by Vladimir Luka kept the puck in the Sheffield zone and Luka’s shot was saved by Zimozdra but McKenzie was perfectly positioned to fire the rebound into the roof of the net.

Sheffield did pull a goal back late in the period back, Hewitt tapping in after Tigers got caught on a breakaway.

Bonner scored to equalise with a slap shot that gave Brad Day no chance.

And as the second period progressed, Sheffield took the lead when Alex Graham shot in off the bar from in the slot with Day screened by his own defender.

Telford did equalise, Jesson was found in space allowing the Tigers’ forward to smash a shot over Zimozdra’s glove and into the net.

With the sides level at the start of the third period the next goal would prove crucial, and the pressure on the Tigers finally paid off when Graham tapped in from close range with five minutes of the game remaining.

With time running out Tigers pulled Day from goal to add an extra attacker, but despite some pressure on Zimozdra’s goal, a blocked shot by Sheffield allowed the puck to break out of the offensive zone and gave Graham an empty net to complete his hat-trick.

Tigers can feel hard done to, as a spirited performance saw them end up without any points and another home defeat.

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