Shropshire Star

Bazooka is ready for title blast-off with Telford Tigers

Telford Tigers have confirmed that last season’s top scorer Vladimir Luka has committed his future to the club for the upcoming campaign.

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Luka, nicknamed ‘Bazooka’ by the Tigers fan base due to his notoriously powerful shot, has netted 134 times in the NIHL since his winter arrival in 2021, including a staggering tally of 52 goals last term.

The 42-year-old Czech forward played an instrumental role in the Tigers’ play-off push – scoring in the 6-0 victory over Bristol Pitbulls on the final day of the regular season.

Telford went on to top Group B in the play-offs, but ultimately suffered semi-final heartbreak against Peterborough Phantoms in the ‘Final Four’ stage at Coventry in April.

But having previously tasted title success with Telford in 2022, Luka, who will enter his fourth year in Shropshire, is determined to achieve yet more success on the ice rink next season.

“I am really grateful to continue with Telford Tigers because they have become part of my family,” he said. “The management, the players and of course the fans. Our targets this season will definitely be to play some good hockey and win a trophy.

“I believe that Tom [Watkins] will once again put together a team that will be challenging for honours. I am not the youngest anymore but I’ll do everything to get us to where we belong.”

Luka first arrived on British shores with Sheffield Steeldogs in 2019 having played the majority of his career in his native Czech Republic and in Poland with Zaglebie Sosnowiec.

Since arriving in England, he has also had spells at Nottingham Lions and Sheffield Scimitars, before scoring 31 times in 36 matches en route to the NIHL title with Telford during his first half-season in 2021/22.

The forward has scored more than 100 league goals across the past two seasons and head coach Tom Watkins is delighted to boast a player with such an extraordinary strike rate once again during the new season.

Watkins added: “What does Vlad bring to the team? Goals. Lots of goals and he has improved his goal tally in each of the last three seasons for us.

“I think the team we have signed this season will compliment Vlad and allow us to get pucks in areas of the ice where he can affect the game in the offensive area and of course on the power play.

“It’s tough to find a player who will put the puck in the net and with such a quality shot as Vlad, he can change the game in an instant so I am very pleased to see him back with us for another season.”