Tigers sign former Slovakian U20 captain

Telford Tigers have completed their EPL line-up with the signing of former Slovakia U20 captain Milan Kolena.

The 22-year-old forward has scored 36 points for his country, including 11 at the World Junior Championships – the highest level for U20 ice hockey.

He will join a Tigers side that already features three import forwards, as Head Coach Tom Watkins prepares to launch an all-out assault on the EPL next season.

Watkins said: “Milan’s agent happens to be our new netminder, Ondrej Raszka, so once he knew we were looking I had all the stats and looked at his progress from the last couple of years.

“I like what I saw. I think we are getting a very talented player. He has a good skill set, good hands, good shot and skates well.

“We’re getting a young, hungry player who captained his country at the highest possible level and will be coming to Telford eager to prove himself in the EPL.”

Kolena has spent the majority of his career in the Slovakian Extraliga, rated as one of the top leagues in Europe, where he scored 43 points in three seasons.

That potential also saw him enjoy a brief spell in the European KHL, which is seen as second only to the NHL in North America.

Watkins added: “Milan will be asked to play 200ft hockey, as will all our guys, and he’ll add some grit to our line-up. He has decent size and will be strong on the puck which is key playing in a small rink.

“He is another guy who has the ability to play centre and wing, which gives us lots of options though the middle of the ice – something we didn’t have last season.

“I’ve watched a lot of video of him and spoken to quite a few people. I think he’s going to be a very exciting player for us.”

The arrival of Kolena follows last week’s signing of Great Britain international Matty Davies, giving the Tigers’ boss extra options in attack for the new EPL campaign.

“I had a bit of a dilemma when Matty came in and we could have gone for either a defenseman or forward as the final import,” Watkins said.

“But having a defenseman would make some of line changes difficult at times. I think having four import forwards will give us lots of different looks offensively and give us a scoring threat across all our lines.

“We have lots of depth giving us competition for places, guys will have to turn up and work every practice and game. That’s great for the team and fans.”

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