The Joy of Depth
Team GB Head Coach Doug Christiansen is enjoying a rare headache, as he whittles down his squad ahead of the IIHF World Championship (Division 1B) in Lithuania next month – depth of talent.
Whilst GB don’t possess the might of Canada, Sweden or even Switzerland; in previous years options have been thin and the squad has essentially picked itself. Now the former Edinburgh, Belfast and Sheffield Coach has genuine options, as Team GB looks to bounce back following last years relegation.
Whilst it’s hardly the beginning of some golden era for the British game, it’s a nice situation to be in.
The national side has been under supported, both literally and figuratively, for a number of years. Many fans hold little more than a passing interest, and the concept of honouring the international breaks, as most other leagues do, is alien. It’s led to a somewhat fractured set up and uninspiring results.
Last year was something of a roller coaster, with the team reaching the final qualifying phase for Sochi 2014 – but GB were promptly dispatched by their opponents, ending the tournament without a win. Worse followed as the team was relegated at the World Championships and the debate began again about how best to move forward with our national teams.
Little has changed since then. The national programme remains largely an afterthought. But Christiansen’s team does at least have a legitimate chance of getting promoted again this year, and having options gives him the best chance to bring some success. Winning tends to promote interest, so one can only hope that the idea of getting behind a winning team becomes somewhat more appealing for both the fan base at large and those in power within the sport.
Christiansen still has to cut the squad down to the final 23, but for now the feelings are largely positive – lets keep our fingers crossed the British game can, or perhaps I should say ‘will hopefully’, capitalise on the good vibes surrounding the team right now; and perhaps finally get behind the national side for more than the odd week here and there.
Current Team GB 28-Man Squad for the IIHF World Championship (Division 1B)
Ben Bowns – Hull Stingrays
Stephen Murphy – Belfast Giants
Mike Will – Braehead Clan
James Griffin – Coventry Blaze
Steve Lee – Nottingham Panthers
Sam McCluskey – Dundee Stars
Danny Meyers – Sheffield Steelers
Ben O’Connor – Arlan Kokshetau
David Phillips – Belfast Giants
Kevin Phillips – Belfast Giants
Mark Richardson – Cardiff Devils
Paul Swindlehurst – Dundee Stars
Jonathan Weaver – Nottingham Panthers
David Clarke – Nottingham Panthers
Ben Davies – Cardiff Devils
Matty Davies – Hull Stingrays
Robert Dowd – Sheffield Steelers
Robert Farmer – Nottingham Panthers
Mark Garside – Belfast Giants
Jason Hewitt – Sheffield Steelers
Phil Hill – Sheffield Steelers
Robert Lachowicz – Nottingham Panthers
Matthew Myers – Cardiff Devils
Craig Peacock – Belfast Giants
Jonathan Phillips – Sheffield Steelers
Colin Shields – Belfast Giants
Ashley Tait – Coventry Blaze
Matt Towe – Braehead Clan