Tom Watkins has warned his Telford Tigers players not to underestimate Bracknell Bees on a key weekend for the club’s EPL title ambitions.
Victory in both games against the Bees would see Telford lift their second title in three seasons – although they could secure top spot on Saturday, should they win and MK Lightning lose to Swindon Wildcats.
“It’s an exciting weekend for the players and fans to come to the rink, but anything can happen, even at this stage – we need to approach it with a high level of professionalism,” said Watkins.
“We only beat Bracknell here last time because of our powerplay goals, so there will certainly be no complacency in my office and that better be the case in the dressing room as well.
“It’s a huge weekend for everyone and we’ll give Bracknell due respect. They come and work hard, they’ve got good netminding and on their day there’s no reason why they can’t turn us over.
“It is really important that we make sure our focus is on doing the little things well. We’ve talked about the need to make sure we don’t slip here.
“It has been disappointing that we’ve allowed teams back into games over the last few weeks. But the benefit is that we’ve still been winning.
“Looking at some of those situations we’ve got ourselves into, the character is there to be winning games. But I would like to see us play with a lead and keep the lead, rather than chase games and allowing teams back in.”
With the Tigers on the brink of claiming the title Saturday’s game is expected to attract a bumper crowd, something Watkins says his team deserve for the spirit they’ve shown this season.
“We’ve got a very good hockey team, both collectively and individually – we have some awesome players that all go out and battle extremely hard,” added Watkins.
“All these guys are excellent professionals in the way approach the game, they give a good account of who they are every week and they set that tone, that identity we want to play to.
“Fans are pretty blessed to be able to watch a team here week in, week out, go out and to date only lose one game at home. There’s not a lot for people to want any more than that.
“We have a great team here and the emphasis is on team. There’s great team spirit, good leadership and good honest work ethic.
“We’ll have ups and downs, but it’s all about how you deal with that. You try to take some of the emotion out, give that honest effort, and make sure you go out there and earn it.
“Every team that wins a league, you have to earn it. You need that collective responsibility to maximise your potential within a role in a team.
“I think we deserve to be where we are – we’re a good honest group and we’re standing on the edge of something quiet spectacular.”
(Image permission: Steve Brodie)