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|City:||Telford, Shropshire, England|
|Founded:||2001 (Earlier Team 1985-99)|
|Colors:||White, Orange, and Black|
|Head Coach:||Claude Dumas|
A previous Telford Tigers team had existed between 1985 and 1999.
Early history Edit
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 didn't 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 Edit
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.
1989-90: Disaster Edit
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 next installment Edit
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 dividents, with local youngsters Geoff Lane, Norman Pinnington and Mark Hazlehurst all pulling on Tigers jerseys in the mid 1980's and early 1990s.
1994: Autumn Trophy and more financial problems Edit
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.
Between the Tigers Edit
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 Edit
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.
Pre season 2008-09 sees Tigers gain and lose sponsorship from Eurologix of Cannock for unspecified reasons. Eurologix insist it is trying to help Tigers management, whilst no information or help has been received. The sponsorship deal was pulled just 2 weeks short of the new season following the assembly of a strong squad, and Tigers Fans, hockey fans, and Telford citizens and businesses rallied round, and managed to raise £20,000 for the team to keep its place in the league within FOUR days. Following the loss of Eurologix, local company GM Plumbing and Heating are now the teams lead sponsor, and the team are now called the GM Telford Tigers. GM Plumbing and Heating is owned by former player Grant Mitchell. With the help of GM and many other local businesses (see Tigers website) the Tigers have retained virtually all signed players, yet were unable to fill the final import slot for the start of the season.
2008/09 GM Telford Tigers squad.
GM Telford Tigers coach Claude Dumas has strengthened his squad with the signings of Tom Carlon (former Tiger), Dave Lawrence, James Knight, and Canadian Jason Cassells along with returning squad members such as Marek Hornak, Daniel Mackriel, Daniel Heslop, Scott Williams and Stuart Bates.
Forward Daniel Mackriel captains the team, supported by Gareth Owen and Jake Armstrong as assistant captains.
Current GM Telford Tigers squad.
Netminders Davey Lawrence (previous Sheffield Steelers) Daniel Heslop (re-sign)
Defenders Alex Symonds (previous Cardiff Devils) Ashley Stanton (re-sign) Stuart Bates (re-sign) Daniel Croft (previous MK Lightning) Jake Armstrong, assistant captain (re-sign)
Forwards Gareth Owen, assistant captain (re-sign) James Knight (previous Hull Stingrays) Ashley calvert (previous Nottingham Lions) Claude Dumas, head coach (re-sign) Marek Hornak (re-sign) Daniel Mackriel, captain (re-sign) Scott Williams (re-sign) Tom Carlon (previous Bracknell Bees) Jason Cassells (Twin City Cyclones)
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.
Due to rule changes made by the EIHA regarding the age catergories for youth teams, Telford Tigers entered a team comprising of experienced players and young talent into the English National League in 2007 season named Telford Tigers ENL. It is hoped that this initiative will help produce quality home-grown talent for many years to come and feed into the senior squad. 2008 saw the team rename to Telford Titans.