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|City||Telford, Shropshire, England|
|Home arena||Telford Ice Rink
Capacity: 750 (seated)
Ice size: 184 ft x 85 ft
|Colours||White, Orange, and Black|
|Owner(s)||Red Hockey Ltd|
|Head coach||Tom Watkins|
The Telford Tigers are an English Premier League (EPL or EPIHL) ice hockey team that formed in 1985. After initially closing in 1999, a new team, under the name 'Telford Wild Foxes', was formed in 2001; and re-adopted the original name in 2005.
- 1 Early history
- 2 The New Team
- 3 The 'Non Tigers' Years
- 4 The New Tigers
- 5 The Fans Trust
- 6 American Ownership
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 External links
After the Telford Ice Rink opened in October 1984, several challenge games involving Altrincham Aces, Blackpool Seagulls, Nottingham Panthers and Solihull Barons were staged to see if a Telford team would be sustainable.
Telford Tigers IH Club Ltd. was formed for season 1985–86 by Central TV commentator Gary Newbon with entertainer David Ismay as chairman and Canadian defenceman Chuck Taylor as player coach. Newbon and Taylor had previously been involved with the Barons, as had squad members Mark Budz, Gordie Patterson, Alan Gould, Paul O'Higgin and Dave Welch. Goalie John Wolfe and Andy Steel signed for the new club from Grimsby.
The club had been granted permission by the BIHA to join the First Division of the British Hockey League, and finished third in their inaugural season, with near sell out crowds seeing Budz score 134 points and Taylor make the All Star Team.
In 1986–87, Tigers new import Dean Vogelgesang scored 196 points, and Budz made the All Star team with 200 points. Tigers did not lose a single home game, but finished fourth in the league due to a nine-point penalty inflicted on them for icing an ineligible player.
1987–88: The title season
For 87–88, the First Division was split into North-South conferences. Tigers won the Southern conference by two points, and beat Northern Conference champions Cleveland Bombers 21–14 on aggregate to take the title. They played Peterborough Pirates, who had finished bottom of the Premier Division, in a Promotion Playoff. After winning the first leg 14–12, they crumbled in the second. They led 6–1 after two periods but Pirates managed to score eight unanswered goals in the third to stay up by a single goal aggregate scoreline. Imports Kevin Conway and Tim Salmon were voted onto the All Star Team, and Chuck Taylor was named Coach of the Year.
The next season was not so good for Telford. Gerald Waslen made the All Star Team, but the team struggled both on and off the ice. The team was put into liquidation in the summer.
The New Team
A new company, Telford Tigers Ice Hockey Club (1990) reformed the team for next season. A year later, former NHLer Jere Gillis took over the coaching role from Taylor (who carried on as a managing director). By now, the junior programme was starting to pay dividends, with local youngsters Geoff Lane,Darren Broome, Norman Pinnington and Mark Hazlehurst all pulling on Tigers jerseys in the mid 1980s and early 1990s.
1994: Autumn Trophy and more financial problems
For the 1993–94 season Kevin Murphy was appointed head coach and introduced a three line system of forwards. It proved successful as Tigers beat Blackburn Hawks in a bad tempered semi-final and Medway Bears 11–7 on aggregate in the final of the Autumn Trophy and finished runners up in the league. However, later that month the club was issued with an order to fold owing £30,000 in unpaid VAT. A new club was formed, Taylor moved to Nottingham and the team again finished second in the league in 1994–95. John Wolfe was given All Star honours and the Telford-born Plant brothers, Russ and Ricky, were featuring on a regular basis.
Claude Dumas, from Quebec, was signed from Cardiff in 1995, and was a catalyst for the Tigers in the late 90's. He was an all star in 1996, 1997, 1998 and 1999 and was named player of the year in 1997–98. During this period he scored 443 goals and notched up 316 assists.
In December 1996, Tigers again ran into money troubles, but were saved by Ken Crickmore, who listed them on the OFEX stock market.
In 1997 John Lawless, who had achieved fame with Cardiff Devils and Manchester Storm, was announced as head coach. Under "JL", Telford finished as runners up in the British National League and lifted the Upper Deck Christmas Cup in 1997 with a 10–7 aggregate victory over Guildford Flames. They reached the Benson and Hedges Plate Final in 1998, but were beaten by Guildford 4–3 at Sheffield.
It wasn't to last, as Director Roy Williams resigned before Telford Tigers Ice Hockey plc went bankrupt, eventually being wound up in the High Court in Spring 1999 owing money to both Lawless and his players.
The 'Non Tigers' Years
In Summer 1999, Telford Timberwolves were launched, but folded after losing 6 B&H Cup games, and playing in front of gates of only 500, half the size of Tigers' in their heyday.
In 2001, the Wildfoxes competed in the amateur English National League. In 2003 they joined the EPL, and changed their name to Telford Tigers for the 2005–06 season. Foxes nurtured several promising youngsters including Jared Owen, Daniel Mackriel, Adam Brittle and Tom Carlon. Dumas returned as player coach in 2003.
The New Tigers
In 2005–06, Tigers finished tenth out of thirteen teams in the EPL and had a good cup run, missing out on the semi-finals by 2 points in the preliminary group. Dumas was third in league scoring, and Slovakian Karol Jets seventh. Netminder Barry Hollyhead and British forwards Tom Carlon, Gareth Owen and Joe Miller all stood out.
2006–07 was a disappointment compared to the previous season. Hollyhead joined playoff champions Milton Keynes Lightning, Jets and his fellow Slovakian Tomas Janak moved to Solihull Barons, Miller joined Elite League team Manchester Phoenix and Carlon and Owen moved to Coventry Blaze. Marc Lovell joined from the Edinburgh Capitals, Juraj Huska and goalie Peter Betinec moved from Slovakian teams (although the latter was released midway through the season to be replaced by Milan Kostolny), and Dumas' former Coventry team mate Matthias Soderstrom (Swedish) joined from the Italian Serie B. Daniel Mackriel moved to Slough Jets midway through the season. Telford finished second bottom in the league, behind local rivals Solihull. To make matters worse, Solihull dropped down to the ENL at the end of the season, thus eliminating the West Midlands Derby from the fixture list.
For 2007–08 Miller, Owen, Mackriel, and Jets returned; D-men Tom Parker and Jake Armstrong joined from Solihull, and Dean Tonks signed from Peterborough Phantoms. However, Miller was unsettled and joined Peterborough in December. After a 9–6 loss away at Swindon Wildcats in January it now looks unlikely that Tigers will qualify for the end of season playoffs.
Gain and loss of Eurologix sponsorship deal.
During the pre season it had been announced that the Telford Tigers had secured a new title sponsor, in the shape of Cannock-based company Eurologix. However, just a few weeks later, it was announced that Eurologix had pulled out of the deal, leaving the Tigers with a large hole in its finances. This was made all the more difficult as the club has begun to recruit players, and negotiate contracts based on the Eurologix money being part of the cash flow.
2008/09 pre season challenge matches
The GM Telford Tigers faced the MK Lightning for a back to back challenge before a trip to Coventry to face Elite champions Coventry Blaze in a fund raising game arranged following the sponsorship troubles. The first game with MK was away, and resulted in an 8–2 defeat. The return game the following night saw marked improvements from the Tigers as the new team started to gel. MK won the game by 2 goals to 0. The fund raiser at Coventry again saw the Tigers improve, and eventually lost 3–2.
Telford Tigers did not ice during this season, mainly due to financial difficulties and missing a deadline for registration into the English Premier Ice Hockey League. However, Telford are currently in the process of planning a return to the EPIHL for next season under new management and control of a Supporters Club called Tiger Tracks. The current plans do, however, all depend on the league and EIHA accepting them back into the league. Despite this, early signs currently indicate this will be the case and Ice hockey will return to Telford in Autumn 2010.
The Fans Trust
In February 2010, it was announced that a 'Fans Trust' had been formed, and that it was intending to ice a Telford Tigers team in the EPL once more. In April 2010, it was confirmed that the teams application to the EPL had been accepted. This team will ice as of the start of the 2010–11 season.
2010–11 Season Newly appointed Head coach Tom Watkins with his new team in telford. The team did not start well not lifting of the bottom place, in recent weeks the team has won several games including against table toppers Guildford Flames.
Forwards Jack Watkins Josh Bruce Andy Mckinney Ashley Calvert Joe Henry Marek Hornak Scott Mckenzie Daniel Mackriel Luke Brittle Andre Masloviskis
Defense Tom Watkins (player coach) Mike Jones Ashley Stanton Tomas Janak Daniel Scott Daniel Croft Ross Hanlon (two-way contract with Northern Stars)
Goalies Martin Clarkson Declan Ryan
In December and January the club announced the release of 2 import players Andre Masloviskis from Latvia and Marek Hornak from Solvakia. The club will compete with only 1 import while replacements are chosen.
Tigers went into their second season under the fans trust. Returning to the squad were star players Scott Mckenzie, Declan Ryan, Josh Bruce and Andy Mckinney.
In late October the team announced changes to the squad. Tigers released import forward Jiri Hanzal and also released British forward Dean Holland. On the back of this Tigers went on to win a stunning road game against Sheffield Steeldogs in a shootout.
The tigers have pulled off some big wins at the start of this campaign with wins over Guildford Flames and Manchester Phoenix. However they have struggled against other teams.
""Forwards"" Joe Henry Callum Bowley Andy Mckinney Tom Soar Josh Bruce Scott Mckenzie Marek Hornak Jiri Hanzal Luke Brittle Dean Holland Adam Taylor.
""Defencemen"" Tom Watkins (player/coach) Thomas Janak (captain) Daniel Croft Juraj Senko Ryan Sellwood Adam Radmall.
""Goalies"" Declan Ryan Greg Blaiz (assistant coach) Josh Nicholls
In October 2013, the BBC reported that the CEO of Red Touch Media, Wayne Scholes had dissolved the 'Fans Trust' and taken over the team under a new company called Red Hockey Ltd. Scholes was the stick-boy for the team during the mid-1980s.
The Manchester Phoenix finished the season as EPL champions.
The Tigers won the EPL title on March 1, 2015 during their game against the Peterborough Phantoms.