Shropshire Star

Telford Tigers' Vladimir Luka is keen to add to his half-century

Vladimir Luka powered in 51 goals for the Telford Tigers last year – and you won’t find him feeling sorry for the NIHL National League netminders.


The Czech forward, who joined the Tigers during the title-winning 2021/22 season, has committed to the club for another season.

And he is looking forward to building on his half-century scoring exploits from last year with more trademark rockets that have given him the nickname ‘Bazooka’.

“When I heard it first time I was laughing, I appreciate it,” said Luka, whose trademark celebration is to hold his stick like a rocket launcher. “I really like it, my son loves it and he thinks it is a great nickname. It’s good that that the fans give me that sort of support.”

However, the goalies of the National League may find it less funny when the puck is scorching towards them off Luka’s stick.

“Not really,” Luka laughed in reply when asked if he had sympathy for the opposition netminders. “We all have a role to play. All the goalies at National League level are good and it’s tough to beat them so I don’t sympathise with them at all.

“I trained and practised it a lot when I was younger, but now it’s a more naturally.

“Honestly, I can’t practice it in training. Our equipment manager Andy Phillips is always complaining because of the amount of sticks I break when I shoot!”

Luka moved to Telford before the start of last season – and there was nowhere else he would rather be playing his hockey. “I never thought about a different club,” he said. “I was glad for the interest from Tigers. As soon as Tom (Watkins, head coach) said he wanted me to return I was going to come back. I love playing for Tigers and the fans have been great to me.”

That is partly down to the league title he helped them win in 2021/22 after joining mid-season, as well as his goal-filled campaign last time out.

“It was a really more than I expected at the start of the season,” he said. “I owe thanks to my team-mates, it wouldn’t have been possible without them.

“Scoring goals is what I love doing and last season was a good one for me personally. I hope to do the same again next season as well.”

As well as the goals though, he would like to get his hands on more silverware.

“We had lots of injuries and we lost some matches that were very close,” he said. “Unfortunately hockey is a sport where small bounces can go against you and you lose.

“We felt at times like everything was going against us and with key players out it was hard to win but we stuck with it and fought our way back.

“I always aim high, so hopefully we will get back to competing for all the trophies and reward our fans with some silverware.

“I’m sure we will have a competitive roster and get back to being at the right end of the league table.”

Speaking about Luka’s return, head coach Watkins said: “You don’t see many guys with the shot that Vlad has, not just sheer power but the release, the accuracy, it is the whole package which makes his shot so deadly. To score over 50 goals last season was massive for us as a team. You know if you get him the puck in the right areas he will score, he gives you a massive threat on the power play.

“He was one of the guys that played consistently all season and I’m sure he can do that again. He’s an experienced professional who is well thought of in our locker room and someone who the young guys look up to.”