Team GB ice hockey have announced a 28-man roster ahead of next months IIHF Division 1A World Championships in Budapest, Hungary with four spots awarded to members of the Cardiff Devils.
Long serving GB players Mark Richardson, Matthew Myers and Ben Bowns are all back for Pete Russell’s squad and expected a guaranteed spot in the final roster, while Tom Murdy will compete with Belfast Giants goaltender Jackson Whistle for the second goaltending spot, while the other will serve as the reserve.
The list of 28 names will eventually be cut down to 23 before the tournament begins on April 22nd, as GB return to Division 1A of the tournament for the first time since 2013.
For the second straight year, Josh Batch of the Devils misses out on a spot in the World Championships.
The 27-year-old from Chelmsford has had his season shortened through injury while also having to split time between playing on the forward and defensive unit.
Head coach Pete Russell spoke of who tough the selection process was on the press release saying “This was a tough 28-man squad to choose and a lot of talented players have been left out.
“But I am happy with the roster for the training camp and the two Lithuania matches next month.
“The competition for places in the GB squad is intense and that will continue to be the case ahead of cutting the squad to 23 players for the World Championship.
“We did something very special last year in Belfast and that will live long in the memory, but that’s behind us now and we will face five very, very good teams in Budapest.”
Last year GB took home the gold medal in Division 1B as they also hosted the tournament in Belfast. The gold marks the return to Division 1A for GB, the last time they were in this division the tournament was hosted in Budapest so this time they’ll hope for better fortunes after failing to win a game back in 2013.
It’s going to be a tough ask for the Brits as they take on Slovenia who have just returned from the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, and have won gold in each of their three Division 1A appearances to be promoted back to the top division.
Also in GBs way next month will be Italy, Kazakhstan, Poland and the hosts Hungary.
With such a tough group it’ll be difficult to see anyway the Brits are able to stay in Division 1A this year, but all signs are pointing in the right direction with a talented youth pool coming of age, including 18-year-old Liam Kirk who recently won bronze with the GB Under 20s side, leading the tournament in goals, assists and points as well.
While relegation may be looming back to Division 1B, Kirk along with Sam Duggan, Jordan Buesa, Cole Shudra and goaltender Jordan Lawday lead a strong list of players who could be coming into the GB senior fold over the coming years, so it may not be long until the Brits can mount a serious charge on Division 1A.
For this year, GB will rely on their Devils players, especially Bowns between the pipes while Robert Dowd of the Sheffield Steelers looks like he’s returned to fitness in time for the tournament. The 29-year-old was one of three British players to register 8-points in last years tournament, along with Colin Shields and Evan Mosey, and the trio will again lead the offensive charge for the team.
Before the tournament begins, GB will take on Lithuania in two warm up games in Milton Keynes and Coventry on April 14th and 15th.
Lithuania themselves play in and will host Division 1B where over the last four years they’ve taken four straight bronze medals.
Ben Bowns – Cardiff Devils
Thomas Murdy – Cardiff Devils
Jackson Whistle – Belfast Giants
Dallas Ehrhardt – Manchester Storm
Steve Lee – Nottingham Panthers
Jeremy Lundin – Guildford Flames
Evan Mosey – Nottingham Panthers
Ben O’Connor – Sheffield Steelers
David Phillips – Sheffield Steelers
Mark Richardson – Cardiff Devils
Zach Sullivan – Braehead Clan
Paul Swindlehurst – Manchester Storm
Ollie Betteridge – Nottingham Panthers
Brendan Brooks – Braehead Clan
Ben Davies – Guildford Flames
Robert Dowd – Sheffield Steelers
Robert Farmer – Nottingham Panthers
Luke Ferrara – Coventry Blaze
Mike Hammond – Manchester Storm
Lewis Hook – Milton Keynes Lightning
Liam Kirk – Sheffield Steelers
Robert Lachowicz – Nottingham Panthers
Ciaran Long – Manchester Storm
Matthew Myers – Cardiff Devils
Jonathan Phillips – Sheffield Steelers
Brett Perlini – Nottingham Panthers
Colin Shields – Belfast Giants
Ross Venus – Coventry Blaze