Shropshire Star

Tom Watkins bemoans Telford Tigers penalties in home defeat

Telford Tigers head coach Tom Watkins feels his side cost themselves two points in their first home match of the season.


The Tigers were beaten in overtime by Bees – 24 hours after winning 4-2 at Solway Sharks in their NIHL National League opener.

And Watkins highlighted the concession of too many penalties as a particular area of concern.

“I can’t help but feel we cost ourselves two points,” he said. “We took too many minor penalties, 18 minutes, nearly a whole period in penalty minutes, the majority which we deserved.

“It is very difficult to win a game when playing short handed for two-thirds of the game.

“We had a rough start, but we kept our composure and turned the game with six unanswered goals, we showed great character. With a two-goal advantage going into the third we have to lock it up, play solid and see the game out.

“But we have more penalties, some very poor decisions on the puck in our zone cost the team dearly.

“We need to learn what it takes to control a period to make sure of a different outcome.”

Tigers were without Jonathan Weaver, Nick Oliver and Danny Rose, but added new signing Connor Lee to the line-up.

Bees’ Marcel Balaz bagged himself a hat-trick as Bees went 4-0 up early on before Telford began to get a foothold in the game.

They pulled a goal back while shorthanded as Fin Howells beat netminder Brython Preece with a superb shot from distance. Tigers added a second goal before the first period ended when the puck broke kindly to Vladimir Luka and he lifted it over Preece.

Just 17 seconds into the second period, Tigers had a third goal when Rhodes Mitchell-King’s shot from the blue line was tipped in by Jake Price and they pulled themselves level when 16-year-old Lee scored his first National League goal with a shot from close range after good work by Scott McKenzie.

Four minutes from the end of the period, Telford were ahead for the first time when Howells pressured Preece into a mistake and they look like they had it won early in the third when Lucas Price made it 6-4.

However, sloppy defending cost Tigers dear as Bees fought back to 6-6 and then grabbed the winner almost immediately at the start of overtime through Dominic Gabaj.

Head coach Watkins added: “I’ve also got to mention the play of Connor Lee. What an exciting prospect he is, just 16 years old and had us all on the edge of our seat every shift.”