8th Dec, 2016

Coventry Blaze trio get Great Britain nod ahead of World Championships

Steve Carpenter 13th Apr, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

COVENTRY Blaze trio Russell Cowley, Ashley Tait and Ross Venus have been named in Pete Russell’s Great Britain squad for the World Championships in Zagreb.

Great Britain will face hosts Croatia, as well as Estonia, Lithuania, Romania and Ukraine at the six-team Division 1B tournament which runs from April 17-23.

Russell’s initial 28-man squad has been cut down to 23 and Cowley, Tait and Venus have all impressed to book their place on the flight to Croatia.

“I think we have a deep team and I think we have good balance,” said Russell. “There is a real hunger in this team and that is so good to see.

“There were some huge decisions to make. All the guys made it very tough on the coaching team which is what they were here to do.

“They all competed hard against each other every session and conducted themselves well on and off the ice at all times.

“The young guys who were selected for the camp gained so much from it and competed all week and against Poland.

“It was a great success and something we must continue to do. They were not far away and will be big players for GB in the future.

A sell-out crowd at the Skydome watch Great Britain beat Poland 3-2 on Sunday evening with Ben O’Connor’s overtime goal earning Russell’s side a win in the second friendly between the two sides in as many days.

The first match in Nottingham ended 4-3 to Poland and Richard Grieveson, chairman for Ice Hockey UK, said both matches proved to be great adverts for GB ice hockey.

He added: “Both sides deserve a lot of credit for the commitment, desire and passion they showed. And both sets of supporters too. The noise and passion in the stands was remarkable.

“We’ve talked about hosting a World Championship and this shows the desire is there from the supporters.”

“A lot of preparation has gone into planning for the World Championship in Zagreb and for these two games against Poland.

“GB general manager Andy Buxton deserves so much praise for his work in the last few months.

“To sell out the Skydome is a fantastic achievement and him and his staff deserve a lot of credit.”

Russell’s side, who won the silver medal at last year’s World Championship in Netherlands, continued with their training camp in Coventry this week before flying to Zagreb on Thursday.