Watkins grateful for title achievement

Tom Watkins scopped the NIHL National League title just prior to the coronavirus shutdown (PHOTO: Steve Brodie)

Title-winning Telford Tigers coach Tom Watkins praised Sunday opponents Raiders for allowing them the chance to clinch the NIHL National League title.

Three games in the division were called off earlier in the day due to teams not willing to travel because of the coronavirus, with Tigers-Raiders and Swindon Wildcats taking on Peterborough Phantoms surviving.

And the results meant Telford were crowned as champions after beating the Romford side 7-3 to pick up their second trophy of the week, to Watkins’ delight.

“What a week for the club to win two trophies, a league and cup double,” he said. “It’s a fantastic achievement and we have a great team on and off the ice.

“Yesterday was a strange situation with so many of the other games cancelled, but we were very fortunate that we were able to play the fixture which gave us the opportunity to win the league in front of our fans.

“For that we are very grateful to John Scott, Sean Easton and all the Raiders players and staff for their professionalism. They are a credit to their club.

Telford Tigers are champions of the NIHL National League (PHOTO: Steve Brodie)

“It’s been a great league season, one that I’ve enjoyed immensely, the competitiveness of the league throughout all the teams has been excellent.”

Swindon’s 10-3 loss to the Phantoms meant the title was able to be concluded as uncertainty continues over whether the remaining games will be played.

Watkins reflected on his team’s successful campaign and while he would love the chance to take their run into the play-offs, but admits it’s all up in the air until further directives have been set.

He added: “To be the team setting the pace adds some pressure, not least when you have to play without key players week in, week out, but as a team every player stepped up to the challenge and played their part.

“We showed a lot of composure when we had a bit of skid and dropped some points allowing the gap to tighten but the difference has been the performances and results against Peterborough and Swindon.

“We’ve played our best hockey and really stepped up in those big games, sweeping both clubs along the way. To me that’s been the difference.

“It would be fantastic to be able to continue this into playoffs and take a run at a playoff championship, I truly believe this team have the character and commitment to go further but for now nobody is sure of what is next.”

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