Telford Tigers v Sheffield Steeldogs - Kieran Brown settles back on ice quickly to enhance Tigers’ Spring Cup ambitions

HEADING into his first Telford Tigers training camp ahead of the Spring Cup, Kieran Brown admits he didn’t know what to expect.

BACK IN THE GAME: Kieran Brown, like everyone else involved in the Spring Cup, is putting months of frustration behind him. Picture courtesy of Steeldogs Media.

For most players in the locker room, it had been almost 12 months since they had last played competitively due to the lockdown restrictions brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.

But the collective relief of simply being out on the ice preparing for real games again quickly garnered an immediate team spirit which has seen Tom Watkins’s side emerge as one of only two realistic contenders to win the behind-closed-doors competition.

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The other contenders are Sheffield Steeldogs, both them and the Tigers unbeaten having won their first six games and, judging by the margins of victory last weekend, both getting stronger with each passing 60 minutes.

The two meet this weekend in a double header that is likely to determine the destination of the silverware, although if both take a win out of the two days there is an equally crucial third meeting between them on March 24.

To watch Saturday’s live stream of Telford v Sheffield go HERE

To watch Sunday’s live stream of Sheffield v Telford go HERE

Kieran Brown, in action for Sheffield Steeldogs against Leeds Chiefs last season. Picture courtesy of Cerys Molloy.

Brown originally signed for Leeds Chiefs last summer, having spent the majority of last season playing for the Steeldogs as part of a two-way deal with Elite League neighbours Sheffield Steelers.

Frustratingly, Brown has yet to pull on a Chiefs’ jersey this season, a campaign which will also now see him housed in the East Midlands once the Spring Cup has ended after he was picked by Nottingham Panthers for the Elite Series in last week’s British Draft.

For now, though, Brown’s immediate future is largely based in Shropshire, where he has settled quickly and proved an important part of the Tigers’ attacking firepower, one that was seen so clearly last weekend when they put 16 goals in two games past Swindon Wildcats.

MORE – Tim Smith confident Steeldogs will emerge stronger from influence of GB internationals in Spring Cup

Sheffield Steeldogs will provide a stiff test for Telford Tigers this weekend. Picture courtesy of Cerys Molloy.

Brown, like so many players for so long denied the ice time he will have so badly craved over the last 12 months because of lockdown, is enjoying his new surroundings, particularly with the way he has quickly developed an understanding with new line-mates Scott McKenzie and Robert Lachowicz.

He will continue to play alongside Lachowicz for the Panthers at the National Ice Centre next month, the GB international named as one of the club’s five ‘protected’ British players prior to the Draft.

“I’m loving it down here,” said Brown, who has registered three goals and four assists in the six games so far. “When I got there I was really impressed with everything straightaway.

“It can sometimes be hard when you’re paired with new line-mates at first, the first couple of practise sessions and games, you are just getting into it really, showing each other how you play.

“But with Rob and Scott (McKenzie) it just kind of clicked straight away and that’s mainly down to how smart they are.

“Lacho is always looking for the pass and Scotty is the same - we just seem to have really good chemistry.”

Like virtually everyone else following the competition, Brown sees the winner of the Spring Cup coming from the two teams battling it out in Shropshire and South Yorkshire this weekend and anticipates a tough weekend against his former team-mates.

“I really enjoyed my time playing with Steeldogs,” he added. “Obviously, playing in the National League and actually getting some ice time was the big thing for me.

“Both teams have got a lot of great players and are stacked depth-wise - Sheffield have got Kirky (Liam Kirk), Alex Graham, Jon Phillips and the others, but I like to think we’re pretty stacked too. You’re looking at two evenly-matched line-ups going at each other across two days.”

That depth has enabled the Tigers to roll four lines each night, helping make them the most stingy team defensively in the competition, with just 10 goals conceded in six games.

By contrast, the similar strength in depth across the ice today for the Steeldogs sees them go into the weekend as the competition’s top scorers with 40 goals plundered so far.

“We roll four lines throughout the whole game, so when it comes to the third period, our top lines are fresh and not too tired from being out there too much,” said Brown.

“So that is a big help for us as a team and all our lines are producing, too, not just the first and second lines - all four are producing which is another massive bonus.”

To watch Saturday’s live stream of Telford v Sheffield go HERE

To watch Sunday’s live stream of Sheffield v Telford go HERE

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