Telford Tigers pay their respects on an emotional evening
Telford Tigers head coach Tom Watkins paid tribute to Adam Johnson on an emotional night at Telford Ice Rink.
The hockey world has been mourning the Nottingham Panthers player, who died last weekend after his neck was fatally cut in a Challenge Cup game against the Sheffield Steelers.
All National League games were postponed last Sunday in the wake of the tragedy, and the Tigers used Wednesday’s 3-0 home defeat to Peterborough Phantoms to hold a two minute’s silence ahead of the game.
And Watkins said the game paled into insignificance following Johnson’s death.
“After the very sad events of the last few days it was difficult to return to play for everyone,” Watkins said.
“You could certainly feel it in the atmosphere in the building, a difficult evening for the all the players and fans.
“It was very important for us to show our respects to Adam Johnson and unite as a group, who have all been saddened and shocked by this terrible tragedy.
“The ice hockey community has really pulled together in this difficult time, which can be seen globally with so many tributes.
“The game this was insignificant given the circumstances.”
The Tigers were without several key players as they welcomed Peterborough to Shropshire, including Sam Watkins, Danny Rose, Ricky Plant, Vladimir Luka and Jonathan Weaver, although James Smith and Ryan Leese did return.
They made a lacklustre start and were ultimately punished when Brad Bowering’s long range shot caught out Tigers’ goalkeeper Brad Day.
Harry Ferguson came closest for the Tigers in the first period when he crashed an effort against the inside of the post.
A bizarre refereeing call handed Peteborough a penalty, but Tigers survived the scare by denying the visitors with some resolute defending.
The Tigers improved at the start of the second period but were unable to breach Jordan Marr’s goal.
And Peterborough soon doubled their advantage with Martins Susters on hand to convert the rebound into an empty net after Day denied Lukas Sladkovsky’s shot.
The effort shown by the Tigers could not be understated, but they did struggle to play with a great deal of fluidity, while the inspired form of Marr proved a constant source of frustration.
The Phantoms goalkeeper made save after save, including a pair of impressive point-blank stops to thwart Scott McKenzie.
Peterborough added a third goal on the breakaway when former Telford player Austin Mitchell-King picked out an unmarked Duncan Spears to fire the puck into the empty net.
That ultimately ended the game as a contest, and there was another poignant moment in the 47th minute when the crowd gave a minute’s applause in tribute to the number worn by Johnson during his career.
Marr comfortably took the man-of-the-match award, as he continued to frustrate Telford in their search for a consolation.
And Telford ultimately fell to back-to-back defeats and will next be in action against league champions Leeds Knight at home on Sunday.