Shropshire Star

Telford Tigers are off to a perfect start in play-off campaign

Telford Tigers head coach Tom Watkins was pleased with the composure his side showed in their narrow late play-off victory against Romford Raiders.


After scoring three times in the final 90 seconds to come from 5-3 down to win 7-5 to beat Raiders away in their first play-off game on Saturday – they repeated the feat on home ice as they beat them 3-2 with two goals from Jesse Sutton and a late winner from Fin Howells.

After the game Watkins said: “It was another very hard-fought win and a tight defensive battle which went to the wire.

“Play-off hockey is different, you have to do the little things well, have a solid defensive mindset and like the previous game against Raiders, I thought our third period was exactly how we have to play to be successful.

“I thought we showed very good composure when Raiders scored and we managed the next shift well and stuck with the plan.

“When we didn’t capitalise on a power play chance with around six minutes to go I thought we might not get another chance but we then scored one of our best-worked power play goals all year to win the game.

“We showed excellent awareness and puck movement to seal back-to-back wins and it is a great start to secure four points from our opening two games.”

Tigers remained without Connor Lee, Lucas Price and Aidan Wilson and knew that with games to come against the top two seeds in the group – Milton Keynes and Swindon Wildcats – a home win was vital. The opening period of the game was fast-paced and scrappy and saw only one goal.

Sutton put Telford ahead after good work from Jaden Peca, who won the puck behind the Raiders’ goal and the puck broke free for Sutton to fire into the open net.

Tigers almost doubled their lead shortly after when Tom Byrne shot from close range, but a brilliant glove save by Ethan James in the Raiders’ goal denied the Telford forward a certain goal.

The Tigers added a second goal six minutes into the second period. James Smith sent Sutton clear on goal and Sutton scored with a superb wrist shot into the top corner of the goal, over James’ glove.

An ill-advised roughing penalty by Peca provided the Raiders with a power play opportunity which they took when Adam Laishram scored with a wrap-around goal.

Tigers were then indebted to Brad Day on a number of occasions for keeping them in the lead.

The third period saw both teams tiring after putting in significant effort over the weekend but Raiders levelled the game nine minutes from the end with a low shot from Marco Pascale.

With the game headed to overtime, some pushing and shoving between Jake Price and Corey Prevost saw them both get roughing penalties.

But crucially Jake Sylvester was also given a roughing penalty as he got involved in the altercation, meaning Telford would get a late powerplay chance.

The home side took full advantage of the extra attacker with Peca and Scott McKenzie combining brilliantly to give Finn Howells an open net to shoot into and win the game.

Tigers’ win sets them up nicely for the next play-off double header against Group B top seeds Milton Keynes this coming weekend.