Telford Tigers’ boss Tom Watkins will call for patience from his team in Saturday night’s EPL encounter with a short-benched Manchester Phoenix outfit.
With just 14 players permanently signed up to their squad Phoenix have had a difficult start to the campaign, although their confidence will have been boosted by last week’s 5-0 win at Bracknell Bees.
Watkins, who added ‘D’ man Sam Oakford to his squad this week, said: “It was tough the last time we played Manchester – they got the goal at the start and the fact that they’re shorthanded means their best players are always on the ice.
“Those guys they have in the squad are no slouches at all. There’s some quality defensemen and good, solid British guys.
“They have good netminding and their imports are good, so you always have to be on your guard.
“One of the things we have got to do is get out first and I think if you get a lead first, then teams have to play a bit differently and open up a lot more. That way you can start to punish mistakes.
“I think patience is absolutely a key part in games. If we start to get frustrated, then teams start to get the upper hand mentally. Likewise, if we can get on a team early and take a lead, other teams get frustrated.”
Sunday sees Telford travel to play Peterborough Phantoms – a side that has lost three games already this year.
Watkins added: “We just need to turn up and play the way we want to. We’ll be coming in blind, but we have to approach it and focus on our own performance.
“It’s small ice there and things happen fast, so we’ve got to be on our toes and be prepared to battle. A lot of times we’ve been there and caught off our guard, so that’s a must.”
Swindon Wildcats host the Bees on Saturday, before travelling to face Phoenix the following day.
The Wildcats put a poor start to the season behind them last weekend with victories over the Tigers and Guildford Flames – results which delighted Player/Coach Aaron Nell.
“I think we’ve turned a little corner – we could have easily had two losses and when you look at the weekend, there’s not many tougher than the one we’ve just had,” he said.
“We showed huge character and we deserved everything we got. We stuck together and stuck to the gameplan, and worked extremely hard – when we do that, we’re going to be successful.
“We’ve got a very good team and when we do that, we’re very good.”
Basingstoke Bison v Sheffield Steeldogs
Hull Pirates v Peterborough Phantoms
MK Lightning v Guildford Flames
Swindon Wildcats v Bracknell Bees
Telford Tigers v Manchester Phoenix
Bracknell Bees v MK Lightning
Guildford Flames v Hull Pirates
Manchester Phoenix v Swindon Wildcats
Peterborough Phantoms v Telford Tigers
Sheffield Steeldogs v Basingstoke Bison
(Image permission: Steve Brodie)