DOUG Christiansen takes his Great Britain squad out to Vilnius today intent on bringing home a World Championship gold medal.
The former Sheffield Steelers coach trimmed his squad down to the permitted 23 bodies yesterday, with Braehead Clan’s Matt Towe and Belfast Giants’ Kevin Phillips missing out.
That means there was a place – as expected – for Hull Stingrays’ Matty Davies, the 24-year-old centre who was unfortunate to miss out last year when GB were relegated from Division 1A after losing every game.
Davies, who scored a career-high 60 points last season in the Elite League, joins Hull team-mate and netminder Ben Bowns in the squad. Experienced internationals Danny Meyers, Jonathan Phillips, Jason Hewitt, Phil Hill and Robert Dowd – all fresh and on a high from Sheffield Steelers’ Elite League play-off win – also make the trip.
Christiansen’s team head to the Division 1B tournament as the highest-ranked team and subsequently are favourites to return to the second tier of the world game at the first time of asking.
They open their campaign on Sunday against Croatia, before taking on Romania, Lithuania, the Netherlands and Poland.
““I think it was an outstanding camp and all the guys worked hard,” said Christiansen.
“They are a confident group of guys and it now up to us to go out and prove to the world what we can do.
“The two guys I have released are unlucky. Matt Towe was outstanding. He is an exciting player and will be a national-team player in the future for sure.
“Kevin Phillips had a great season with Belfast and was a big part of the team that won the Elite League title.
“I think our balance of left-handed and right-handed defencemen in the team will pay dividends.”
A delighted Davies added; “It means a lot to me to be included. It is something I have set out to do over the past few years and to get the nod is a big achievement.
““Now I want to go and show I was worth picking.”
Final GB 23-man squad for World Championships, Division 1B, Vilnius, Lithuania – Netminders: Ben Bowns (Hull Stingrays), Stephen Murphy (Belfast Giants), Mike Will (Braehead Clan); Defencemen: Steve Lee (Nottingham Panthers), Danny Meyers (Sheffield Steelers), Ben O’Connor (Arlan Kokshetau), David Phillips (Giants), Mark Richardson (Cardiff Devils), Paul Swindlehurst (Dundee Stars), Jonathan Weaver (Panthers); Forwards: David Clarke (Panthers), Ben Davies (Devils), Matty Davies (Stingrays), Robert Dowd (Steelers), Robert Farmer (Panthers), Mark Garside (Giants), Jason Hewitt (Steelers), Phil Hill (Steelers), Robert Lachowicz (Panthers), Matthew Myers (Devils), Jonathan Phillips (Steelers), Colin Shields (Giants), Ashley Tait (Coventry Blaze).