Telford Tigers are delighted to announce the return of Scott McKenzie for the 2023/24 season. McKenzie will return for his eleventh year with the Tigers and will wear his trademark number 77 shirt. The 36 year old forward had a productive year last season scoring 78 points. Scott has also agreed to return as coach of the Laidler Division team for a further year.
We caught up with Scott to discuss his return:
With this being your eleventh year in total with Tigers, what are your favourite memories of your time at the club?
“I think the top moment for me was the first time we were able to clinch the league title in Peterborough. It meant so much to us all, but for me having been there when we were struggling at the bottom of the league every year, to then win the league the way we did was just amazing. A night I’ll never forget.”
You recently posted on Facebook that you are nearing the end of your hockey career. What is it about the sport / Tigers that made you continue this season?
“I’ve been on the ice since I was 4 years old. I love the game. I love what it has given me as a person, had a huge impact on my character and I’m proud of what I’ve been able to achieve in the sport. I have a ridiculous competitive streak in me and it keeps me coming back for more. It’s definitely not the medals that bring me back, more the team environment and the feeling of winning a hockey game is something that can’t be replicated in any other part of my life.”
How close were you to retiring from playing?
“Was I close this year? Probably. I think if you’d asked me that question in November /December 2022 just before the resurgence of the team with the new players we bought in, I probably would’ve said yes I’m really close. But then we finished strong to end the year, and I got the bug back. It’s the hope that kills you. I feel like as long as I’m able to help the team, I will keep playing at this level.”
With Jason Silverthorn injured for a lot of the season, you stepped up as team captain. Is that a role you enjoyed?
“Losing Jason was always going to be challenging for our group. He is our on ice leader. The guy we look to in the big moments. Always leads by example and says the right things at the right time. Boots that I just cannot fill. But when Tom told the group that I would be the captain for the remainder of the season, I was proud to be the guy to lead us forward. I love this club. So to wear the C is a huge honour to me and one that I do not take for granted.”
How much are you enjoying the coaching side of your current dual role at the club?
“I love coaching the T2 team. They have really come a long way from two years ago. They’ve bought in to the way we want them to play but more importantly the discipline within the group is fantastic. That, in my opinion, is the reason for their success. I am lucky to have the support of Mike, Doug and Kieran as well as a brilliant bunch of volunteers that make my job very easy. The success of the last two years is down to all of those people, I only help guide and instruct. They are the ones that deserve the credit.”
Do you see your future in coaching when you hang up the skates?
“I love to coach, to help and support players. I don’t see why it wouldn’t be an option for me but it would need to be right for my family first and foremost. I have a great job and a great boss who supports my hockey career. But I would always be open to opportunities whatever they may be.”
You have had great success with Telford over the years. How disappointing was last season’s low finish in the league and just missing out on the playoff final?
“Last year was tough. No matter what people think, we battled every night. But ultimately, we finished exactly where we deserved to finish in the league. Seventh place was about right for us with the team we had. The end of the season was fantastic. I think it gave us all a lift and the hope that next season could be a great one.”
What do you think of Tigers’ chances for next season?
“Next season is an absolute lottery. Players are moving around this summer, one team has left, new team coming in, add in another import to each team so we really have no idea how teams are going to do. We can only really focus on what we are doing recruitment wise and I know that Tom is doing everything he can to bring in not only good hockey players, but good people that fit into what we are trying to do to be successful.”
Do you have a message for the fans ahead of the season?
A) “After we had our fans forum last year, the change in our crowd noise at home games was crazy. We have won back to back championships but I’d never heard the building as loud as it was at some of those games through February and March. That is what we need, week in, week out. I don’t think the fans realise how much of a difference it makes to the guys on the ice. That support gives the team that extra 5% they need to block a shot, back check hard or make a hit. It goes a long way. Be loud, be proud, but please please, be positive as well. Negativity gets us nowhere!”
Tom Watkins, Head Coach and General Manager, commented, “Scott is a guy that to me epitomises what it is to represent the club, he loves the team, the club and has been instrumental in his time here on the ice but has also believed in what we are doing, he is totally invested in the process and helped mould that over the years. He hurts when we lose and is passionate when we win. As he gets older you can see he really values every moment and I certainly value his contribution on and off the ice in his time as a Telford Tiger. I think when he finally chooses to retire (and there are no plans for that as far as I’m aware!) he is certainly up there for his dedication/commitment, leadership, desire, class and ability with the likes of Jason Silverthorn, Ricky Plant and Jonathan Weaver.”
Scott’s own and loan shirts are available to order now for £150 each (Home and Away). Please see the Tigers’ Online Shop for details.
In the 2023/24 season, Tigers are again offering individual player sponsorship at £500. The package will include a personalised ‘SPECIAL’ exclusive third jersey with a company name or family name patch, announcements on match nights, a small advert or logo in the match night programmes and a signed player photo. The jersey will be worn for cup games and play-off games and will not be available as a replica.
If you are interested or require more information on the individual player sponsorships, contact firstname.lastname@example.org