Telford Tigers are pleased to announce the return of Sam Watkins for the 2023/24 season. Watkins, son of Head Coach Tom Watkins, will continue to wear the number 25 shirt. Sam has come through the junior team set up at the club and will play his third season at National League level. Sam recently was jointly awarded the club’s Player’s Player of the year award.
We spoke to Sam about his return to the club:
This is your third year with the senior side after coming through the Telford Juniors set up. Do you feel settled at senior level now?
“I definitely feel settled at senior level despite it initially taking some time. I feel comfortable around the lads and confident in my ability when on the ice to be able to compete with anyone in the league.”
How hard was it to make the step up from the U18 level to National League level?
“It was definitely a challenge making that step from juniors to seniors, the speed of the game is completely different which is something you have to get used to quickly. “
You had your best point scoring season ever last year with 33 points What did you think was behind that sudden jump in your point production?
“Vladimir Luka! Playing on a line with Vlad at times is a great way to get some assists as he was in incredible form at the end of the season and seemed to score a hat trick every game!”
Are there any areas of your game you are looking to improve for next season?
“There are many different areas that I’m looking to improve on, if I had to be specific I’d say that I’d like to become stronger and faster which is something that I will look to do over the summer.”
You have had well publicised health issues in the past. How are you now and how does this affect your game?
“My health, at this moment in time, is not something I am concerned about, I feel healthy and fit whenever I play. I don’t feel it affects my game at the moment. Hopefully that continues into the future.”
Is it harder for you when your Dad is the coach of the team?
“I would say it is easier having my Dad as the coach, I think we have a professional relationship at the rink which is separate from our relationship away from Tigers.”
You have seen a fair bit of penalty kill time recently and have been praised by the fans for your shot blocking. How much does it hurt when you get hit by the puck!?
“If it gets you in the right spot it can be quite painful but 9 times out of 10 it gets you where you can’t feel much. I think shot blocking is a key part of being on the penalty kill unit so it’s something you have to do!”
What hopes do you have for the forthcoming season?
“I haven’t thought too much about the upcoming season as of yet, I think what I would like to improve from where we were at the end of last season which would be great. Any added success would be a bonus as well.”
Do you have a message for the fans ahead of the forthcoming season?
“As players we really appreciate all the support you provide and can’t wait to see you in the new season. Hopefully, the fans will get behind us from the first game and we can improve on last season.”
Tom Watkins, Head Coach and General Manager, said, “Sam keeps improving, at still only 19 he is another that continues to impress, develop and I’m expecting further progression from him again this season. He has high end hockey IQ, plays a solid 200 foot game as a natural centre who is very reliable defensively and composed on the puck. He does all the little things very well, parts of the game that might go unnoticed to some but certainly appreciated by his teammates who acknowledged that contribution with a Player’s Player award for last season.”
Sam’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