New Great Britain Coach Pete Russell has named his final 23-man roster for the Division 1 Group B World Championship tournament in Eindhoven, Netherlands between April 13th and 19th.
Russell, who won gold as Head Coach of the British U20 side at the Division II Group A tournament in Estonia last December, will be without a number of stalwarts for the tournament next month – with netminder Stephen Murphy, D man Steven Lee and forward David Clarke all injured.
Cardiff stopper Ben Bowns is expected to start for Team GB, but Russell has brought veteran Stevie Lyle back in to the fold ahead of the tournament.
Lyle is arguably the most successful British trained netminder of all time, winning a number of domestic titles and awards during a 20 year professional career.
English Premier League winners Telford will send netminder Tom Murdy as emergency backup, as well as veteran blue liner Jonathan Weaver, whilst Sheffield’s Mark Thomas is recalled and Cardiff blue liner Josh Batch is set to makes his debut.
Russell also hands first international caps to Chris Blight, who is now British qualified, youngster Jonathan Boxill, Braehead’s Matt Haywood, University of Alabama-Huntsville forward Jack Prince and Spokane Chief’s winger Liam Stewart, son of musician Rod Stewart.
Belfast sniper Craig Peacock is the surprise omission from the squad, though the 26-year old is listed as a reserve, whilst there is no room for veteran Ashley Tait in the squad.
“I am delighted to announce my first Great Britain team to represent our country at the World Championship in Eindhoven,” said Russell, in the official press release.
“Since Christmas, we have watched a lot of hockey and evaluated all our available options but, more importantly, searched for the right players who we believe fit into our playing philosophy and identity.”
“When taking on the role of head coach, I stated my goal to implement a new identity of play and to select players who fit into each role to make our group more balanced and complete as a unit.”
“I believe we have done this and we have selected the right individuals for this period of the process.”
“We have players returning with good international experience and we have some new blood coming into the fold as well, which is exciting.
“We have a good mix of speed, skill, power and grit. We also have the right mix of offensive-minded talent and more defensive-minded talent.
“For me, this is vital to us while pushing forward to reach our goals for not only this championship but for our future.”
“A few months ago I openly said that the Great Britain player we are looking for should have the following must-have qualities; high levels of work ethic, good technique and technical ability, compete, good character and good mentality.”
“We have selected players with those qualities and now it’s all about bringing them together as a team.”
“I will not make any big predictions but what I will promise is these 23 individuals will work tirelessly to do our country proud every time we step on to the ice.”
Team GB have two warm up games against Poland as part of their pre-tournament training camp.
Ben Bowns – Cardiff Devils
Stevie Lyle – Swindon Wildcats
Tom Murdy – Telford Tigers
Josh Batch – Cardiff Devils
Russell Cowley – Coventry Blaze
Ben O’Connor – Sheffield Steelers
David Phillips – Belfast Giants
Mark Richardson – Cardiff Devils
Paul Swindlehurst – Dundee Stars
Mark Thomas – Sheffield Steelers
Jonathan Weaver – Telford Tigers
Chris Blight – Dundee Stars
Jonathan Boxill – Nottingham Panthers
Robert Dowd – Sheffield Steelers
Robert Farmer – Nottingham Panthers
Mark Garside – Belfast Giants
Matt Haywood – Braehead Clan
Robert Lachowicz – Nottingham Panthers
Matthew Myers – Cardiff Devils
Jonathan Phillips – Sheffield Steelers
Jack Prince – University of Alabama-Huntsville
Colin Shields – Belfast Giants
Liam Stewart – Spokane Chiefs
Mike Will – Cardiff Devils
James Griffin – Coventry Blaze
Sam McCluskey – Dundee Stars
Sam Oakford – Nottingham Panthers
Ben Davies – Braehead Clan
Joey Lewis – Bad Tolz
Craig Peacock – Belfast Giants