Telford Tigers in stuttering form but still favourites for NIHL Title

Four goals and two game-winning goals. Quite the weekend for Telford Tigers' captain Jason Silverthorn (PHOTO: Steve Brodie)

The 2019/20 season in the National Ice Hockey league has been a competitive one, with the Telford Tigers currently leading the way.

Following the opening 47 matches played, they have a gap of seven points at the top, winning 25 matches to date.

Their nearest challengers as we move into the last few matches are the Swindon Wildcats, Peterborough Phantoms 1 and the Basingstoke Bison. The Telford Tigers have also scored 203, whilst conceding just 168. This gives a further indication of just how impressive they have been this season, as they remain the betting favourites to go on and land the title.

Despite the overall impressive season to date, they have been in rather stuttering form in recent weeks, which has opened up the title race for the other sides. They travelled to take on the Leeds Chiefs at the start of February, with the home side getting the 3-2 win in overtime. This was a very surprising result, as Leeds are clear at the bottom of the table and have only won six of their 44 matches played.

Following this the Tigers then faced off against the Milton Keynes Lighting and were heavily beaten, with the game finishing 4-1. This was beginning to open up the race for the title, as the Tigers had looked bombproof prior to these consecutive losses. They then looked to return to winning form as they faced off against the Bracknell Bees. The Bees are another side at the bottom of the table, so the Tigers were expected to win. This did not turn out to be the case, with the Bees pulling of the upset with a 5-3 victory, and enhancing their chances of staying in the division.

The two sides then faced off in the reverse fixture, with the Bees again picking up the victory, which meant a fourth consecutive defeat for title favourites, the Telford Tigers. This saw the Bees winning 3-2 in over-time, which was another very important victory in their quest to stay in the division. Odds on them winning the title were lengthened for the fourth week in a row, as some of the top UK bookmakers clearly fancied taking on the Tigers in the outright markets, given their stuttering form – a fair distance from some of the opening markets which included betting without the favourite.

The Telford Tigers then returned to winning ways, with a much needed victory over the Swindon Wildcats. This was also a hugely important victory in the title race, with the top two sides in the division taking each other on. The Tigers won the match 3-2 and further enhanced their prospects of winning the title this season.

Mid-table side the Hull Tigers were next up and this was another match that the Tigers started as the overwhelming favourites. However, they were beaten 7-5, in what was a very high scoring match. This was another surprising result and again gave the other sides a chance to claw back the deficit at the top of the table.

The Tigers have now won two matches in succession, which is why they have gone clear at the top. This started with a 6-4 victory over the Peterborough Phantoms 1, which meant another victory over sides around them at the top of the table. These results have been the key for the Tigers and why they now look likely to win the division. The Tigers then followed this up with a 5-4 victory over struggling Sheffield Steeldogs.

The Telford Tigers 1 are now in a fantastic position to go on and win the title this season, with just five matches left to play. These fixtures will see them take on the Sheffield Steeldogs, the Leeds Chiefs, Raiders, before two consecutive matches against the Milton Keynes lightning. This is an attractive run of fixtures and why they must be the strong favourites for the title.

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