After an intense 2 days of training in Manchester the Great Britain train on squad was whittled down to the 22 who will aim to gain promotion in Slovenia next week. Tony Hand with his first squad has a large weight of expectation on his shoulders following last years silver medal and near miss for promotion.
It is a burden that will not be helped by the fact that instead of flying out with the team on Saturday, Hand will be heading to Coventry where his Manchester Phoenix side will be taking part in the EPL play off finals and depending on the semi final result he will miss Sundays World Championship opener with hosts Slovenia. The GB team will instead be under the control of Belfast head coach Doug Christiansen for the crucial match up.
The national side will also be without the vastly experienced David Longstaff and third choice goaltender Ben Bowns who will also be in Coventry. Longstaff will be lining up for his grand slam chasing Guildford Flames whilst Bowns will be in the Steeldogs goal at the finals against before the pair jet off to join the international set up. But they will face the possibility of playing 6 games in 8 days.
It is a messy and somewhat farcical situation for a Great Britain that showed so much promise at last years World Championships in the Ukraine. However as well missing bodies for the opener against promotion favourites Slovenia the change in format for the second tier of the World Championships now means that the top two are promoted but the pool now contains more highly ranked sides such as Austria and the Ukraine as well as Hungary and Japan. This has put the GB team as fourth favourites for the event behind the Austrians and Slovenians who will be looking to return to Pool A at the first time of asking and the Ukrainians who will want to put the embarrassment of finishing third in Kiev (behind GB and Kazahkstan) 12 months ago behind them.
Hand’s squad will also be missing former captain Jonathan Weaver who withdrew from the team at the last minute for previously unaware of personal commitments and Coventry defenseman Russ Cowley who is still recovering from a concussion. Despite the withdrawals and not having the services of Ben O’Connor whose Sary Arka Karaganda side is in involved in the Kazahkstan playoffs available Hand has chosen not to recall a player from outside of the training squad such as Braehead Clan d Kevin Philips to travel as cover.
Great Britain Squad for World Championship Division 1 A
Stephen Murphy (Belfast Giants)
Geoff Woolhouse (Sheffield Steelers)
Ben Bowns (Sheffield Steeldogs) – emergency netminder
Stephen Lee (Nottingham Panthers)
Danny Meyers (Nottingham Panthers)
Corey Neilson (Nottingham Panthers)
David Phillips (SønderjyskE)
Mark Richardson (Cardiff Devils)
Mark Thomas (Sheffield Steelers)
David Clarke (Nottingham Panthers)
Robert Dowd (Belfast Giants)
Robert Farmer (Coventry Blaze)
Owen Fussey (Coventry Blaze)
Mark Garside (Belfast Giants)
Jason Hewitt (Sheffield Steelers)
Phil Hill (Cardiff Devils)
Jeff Hutchins (Dundee Stars)
Robert Lachowicz (Nottingham Panthers)
David Longstaff (Guildford Flames)
Matthew Myers (Nottingham Panthers)
Craig Peacock (Belfast Giants)
Jonathan Phillips (Sheffield Steelers)
Colin Shields (Sheffield Steelers)
Sunday 15th April 2012: GB v Slovenia
Monday 16th April 2012: GB v Austria
Wednesday 18thApril 2012: GB v Ukraine
Thursday 19th April 2012: GB v Japan
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