Hexagon Telford Tigers travelled to the Link Centre in Wiltshire to take on Swindon Wildcats on Saturday afternoon with the latest game of the Spring Cup competition. Tigers were on the road for the first of back to back games against the team who were their nearest rivals in the NIHL league last year.
Tigers had a full roster available with the exception of Corey Goodison.
Brad Day started in goal for Telford with Renny Marr in the Swindon net.
Tigers made a slow start to the game and could easily have gone behind in the opening minute when Swindon’s Ben Davies skated in on Day’s goal unchallenged but shot straight at the Tiger’s netminder. Tigers’ second line of Scott McKenzie, Robert Lachowicz and Ross Venus had started to build some chemistry in recent weeks and this showed with the opening goal of the contest. McKenzie entered the Swindon zone and drew two defenders towards him before sending a perfectly timed pass to Venus who was unmarked in front of goal. Venus hit a first time shot past Marr to give Tigers the lead. It was not long before Tigers added a second goal and once again McKenzie played a key role with a perfect pass to the stick of Kieran Brown who was free in the slot and buried the puck past Marr to double the lead. Twenty four seconds later, Tigers had a third and Swindon were reeling. Jack Watkins led a rush into the Swindon zone and sent a pass to Fin Howells who hit a one timer past Marr to increase Tigers’ lead further.
Tigers dominated the period and added a fourth goal late on. Brown won the puck on the Swindon blue line and sent it to Lachowicz who passed across goal to McKenzie who got the goal his performance had deserved.
An almost perfect period for Tigers finished with conceding a goal with just six seconds left. A disappointing turnover of the puck in front of goal gave Toms Rutkis a free shot at goal and the Swindon forward sent the puck over Day’s glove into the net to give Swindon hope.
Tigers had a golden opportunity to take the game completely away from Swindon in the opening minute of the second period. Swindon’s Balint Pakozdi and Tomasz Malasinski were awarded penalties giving Tigers a 5-on-3 power play. Tigers’ power play unit had struggled in recent games but managed to score twice in quick succession. First, Jonathan Weaver hit a trademark slap shot from the blue line that Marr never saw, the puck hitting the cross bar and bouncing down into the goal. Then, McKenzie scored his second of the game with an unstoppable shot after being set up by Lachowicz.
With Swindon stunned, Tigers added a seventh goal. Jack Watkins skated from centre ice in on goal and beat Marr high on his glove side. Marr was then replaced in net by Tyler Perre. Tigers ended the period 7-1 ahead.
Swindon scored a consolation goal midway through the third period with Pakozdi scoring from a tight angle, his shot deflecting off Day’s pads into the goal. Tigers responded with another power play goal. Venus passing from behind the goal to David Clements who slammed the puck past Perre for the eighth Tigers’ goal.
Telford had the final say on the score sheet with a fourth power play goal of the game. Cole Shudra scoring with a shot from the right circle which beat Perre low down at the near post, sealing a magnificent team performance and maintaining Tigers’ perfect start to the Spring Cup with a fifth win in a row.
Final Score: Swindon Wildcats 2 Telford Tigers 9.
Scorers: Ross Venus, Kieran Brown, Scott McKenzie (2), Fin Howells, Jonathan Weaver, Cole Shudra, David Clements and Jack Watkins.
Man of the match: Scott McKenzie.
After the game Head Coach, Tom Watkins commented, “Great performance from everyone, very clinical, disciplined in our systems and the power play was very efficient. We started well and took our chances but defensively our back pressure, willingness to compete, battle and block shots was excellent. As good a performance as you’ll see against another good team. We’ll enjoy the bus ride home, I’ll enjoy my birthday but we’ll come to the rink tomorrow knowing we will be facing a team with a point to prove.”
Tigers are back in action tomorrow, Sunday 7th March where they face Swindon Wildcats in the second leg fixture of the Spring Cup competition against the Cats. Streaming tickets are available to purchase now. Watch out for further news, scores at Telford Tigers, visit: https://www.telfordtigers.net/news or catch up on Facebook or Twitter.