That’s Right, That’s Neat, Watkins Loves Tigers’ Feat.
Telford Tigers 1 travelled to Ice Sheffield on Sunday night to take on the Sheffield Steeldogs in the 2nd leg of the NIHL North playoff final. Tigers had stunned their opponents with a 6-0 win in the 1st leg on Saturday night in Telford and were looking to continue their recent good form.
Tigers were without Dale White, Filip Supa and the U18 players Brodie Jesson, Louis Morgan, Jed Moreland and Dan Mitchell but were able to add Nick Oliver, coach Tom Watkins and Joe Miller to the line up. Miller had reversed his decision to retire earlier in the season and had agreed to return for the playoff series with Sheffield and the NIHL Final Four weekend in Coventry next weekend.
The game started with end to end action from both teams. Adam Taylor went close when his shot was juggled by Sheffield net minder Dimitri Zimozdra and only cleared at the last second. Jason Silverthorn then had a good chance but shot wide with only Zimozdra to beat. Sheffield started to apply pressure to the Tigers’ goal and scored the opening goal of the contest in the 13th minute when Cameron Brownley tipped Adrian Palak’s shot past Denis Bell. Sheffield continued to have the better of the remainder of the period but could not add to their score.
The 2nd period started badly for Tigers, with Adam Jones getting called for a tripping penalty. Sheffield took full advantage when Lewis Bell’s shot was saved by Denis Bell but Ashley Calvert was on hand to slam home the rebound and increase Sheffield’s lead to two. Sheffield then had a great chance to increase their lead but missed with a shot sent high over the goal. Sheffield scored their 3rd goal in the 27th minute with a carbon copy of their 2nd goal, Lewis Bell’s shot was saved and Calvert scored on the rebound. Tigers caught a break when immediately after the goal was scored, the plexi glass behind the goal need repairing giving the team a vital few minutes to get their composure back. Tigers picked up the tempo and went close when Miller and Taylor broke away but Zimozdra saved both shots. Into the final minute Tigers laid siege to the Sheffield goal with both Silverthorn and Scott McKenzie forcing big saves from Zimozdra leaving the score 3-0 to Sheffield at the end of the period.
The 3rd period started with Sheffield attacking but leaving gaps at the back as they pushed for another goal. In the 45th minute Tigers made them pay when Ricky Plant sent a pass off the boards to Macaulay Halford who had a two on one breakaway. Halford toe dragged the puck past a defender and fired home into the top right hand corner to put the Tigers on the scoreboard and ease the nerves of the sizeable following from Shropshire. Bell was then required to make two huge saves to keep Sheffield out. In the 54th minute Tigers added their 2nd goal and sealed the aggregate victory when Warren Tait’s shot was saved but Tom Watkins was on hand to fire the rebound into the net.
Tigers saw out the rest of the game and were crowned NIHL North playoff champions and celebrated, lifting the cup in front of the delighted Tigers fans.
Final Score: Sheffield Steeldogs 3 Telford Tigers 2 (Tigers win 8 – 3 on aggregate).
Man of the match: Scott McKenzie
After the game coach Tom Watkins said, “It’s always fun to win, you might not be in a position again to have the opportunity, a trophy is a trophy.
We let our performance slip this evening, there was too much complacency after last night’s excellent result, but tonight is about letting the boys enjoy the night and then get ready for next weekend.”
Watkins added, “We’ve had really good support on the road the last few weeks and we’re looking forward to hearing the Tigers fans in Coventry next weekend.”
Photo credits – Peter Best