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Bulldogs’ head coach Andy Brown on recent GB training camps at Ice Sheffield

NOW LISTEN UP! Bulldogs’ head coach and GB Under-18 assistant coach Andy Brown (centre) instructs the GB Under-18s attending last week’s training camp at Ice Sheffield. Picture courtesy of Ice Hockey UK Media.

BULLDOGS’ head coach Andy Brown believes there is an abundance of young talent coming through in GB hockey – something made clear at a three-day camp held at Ice Sheffield last week.

Andy was down there in his role as assistant coach for the GB under-18s, one of several national age-group teams taking part, with over 200 youngsters attending.

The camp began on Thursday with two on-ice practices each for GB U18s Women and GB U16s Women, as well as off-ice activities, including strength and conditioning. 

On Friday, the men’s GB Under-20s, Under-18s and Under-16s – including Bulldogs’ very own Gregor Mills – took to the ice twice, before all three sides returned the following day for their final sessions of the camp. 

The youngsters also had gym fitness sessions at the nearby English Institute for Sport and there were also off-ice workshops.

In addition, GB Women’s captain Saffron Allen met with the youngsters on Thursday while GB Men’s forward Liam Kirk – who finished as joint-top goalscorer at the recent World Championships in Riga and last week agreed a three-year NHL entry-level contract with Arizona Coyotes – was the special guest on Friday. 

Given how long it had been since some of the youngsters had been together due to the pandemic, Andy said he was impressed with the level of skill and effort produced throughout the camp, something which bodes well for next season’s hoped-for IIHF World Championship campaigns for the various GB teams – although dates and venues are yet to be confirmed by the governing body.

FUTURE PROSPECTS: Youngsters taking part in last week’s GB Under-20 training camp at Ice Sheffield listen to their coaches during practice. Picture courtesy of Ice Hockey UK Media.

Because of the various lockdowns all over the world, no GB teams – other than the GB men’s team under Pete Russell – have been able to compete on the world stage since early 2020.

“The GB selection process is slightly different this year as we’ve been able to secure ice for two ‘identification camps’ to allow the coaches at each age group a chance to have a really good look at players before the trials start properly,” said Andy.

“It’s something we thought would be needed this year given the amount of time that some of the players have been off the ice due to the pandemic.

“I was surprised by the high standard shown at all age groups and it’s hopefully a great indicator that GB will be extremely competitive in the World championships next season.”