Shropshire Star

Telford Tigers edge another thriller to secure perfect weekend

Tom Watkins was pleased to see Telford Tigers dig deep and widen their advantage over Bees in the race for the NIHL National League play-offs.


The Tigers’ head coach saw his side complete the double over Bees – following up their 8-5 home win on Saturday with a 6-5 triumph on the road on Sunday.

Scott McKenzie (two), Finn Howells, Lucas Price, James Smith and Vladimir Luka got the goals in the second of those encounters.

“It was another game where we had to dig deep and show some guts to come from behind with a two-goal deficit going into the third period,” said Watkins. “It was a very important result for us with nine players out of the line-up.

“The performance was far from perfect but to be expected with so many key players unavailable.

“We found a way to grind it out, with Smithy lighting the fire for us with a great fight and then a huge goal.

“We showed a lot of composure in the third period, scoring big goals. It was a remarkable four point weekend for us.”

Tigers lined up without Deakan Fielder through suspension and were also missing Jake Price, Connor Lee, Archie Hazeldine and Joe Aston.

They had lost on their last two visits to Slough in overtime, but made the perfect start to the game with a goal in the opening four minutes.

Howells continued his good run of form with a shot from the slot, which deflected off a Bees defender and beat netminder Brett Shepherd.

But like the game the previous day, it would be a game of lots of goals and Bees equalised five minutes later through Dominic Gabaj.

Tigers were left cursing their luck shortly after when Jesse Sutton’s shot hit the post and immediately Aidan Doughty was sent in on goal at the opposite end and beat Brad Day with a low shot to put the hosts ahead.

Day then made a superb save from Gabaj, preventing a certain goal.

A minute into the second period, Tigers were level. Howells made a nice drop pass to McKenzie, who skated towards goal and sent a wrist shot over Shepherd’s shoulder for Telford’s second goal.

Two minutes later, Bees were ahead again when Gianni Vitali shot through Day’s legs from the slot.

Tigers were level once again midway through the game. A Louie Newell shot was deflected past Shepherd by Price.

Liam Morris had been spoiling for a fight for most of the game and eventually Telford got bored of his antics and Smith dropped the gloves. Smith soundly beat Morris with the Bees’ forward having to leave the ice for treatment.

Bees regained the lead shortly after the restart of play with Tigers’ defence going missing, allowing Marcel Balaz to skate in on goal unopposed and shoot past Day.

A harsh interference call against Harry Ferguson gifted Bees a power play and a fifth goal. Balaz scoring his second of the game to put Telford firmly in trouble. Facing a two-goal deficit in the third period, Tigers got a goal back straight away when a Ryan Leese shot was tipped by McKenzie past Shepherd.

Five minutes later, Tigers were level. A superb shot by Smith from the top of the right circle flew past Shepherd into the top corner of the net to give Telford a fifth goal.

With Telford in the ascendancy, the next goal would prove to be the winner.

Two minutes from the end of the game, McKenzie took possession of the puck and sent a perfect pass across to Vladimir Luka, who hit a first-time slap shot low past Shepherd.

With Bees behind, they took a time out and pulled Shepherd from goal to add an extra attacker and were camped in the Telford defensive zone for the rest of the game.

Day was called on to make another superb save – Vitali was unmarked at the side of the Telford goal and sent a wrist shot towards the net but Day saved brilliantly with his glove and kept out another certain goal.

Some resolute defending saw out the game and gave Tigers a valuable win on the road and a four-point weekend.