Impressive Bowns earns third GB call-up

INTERNATIONAL CALLING: Hull Stingrays' netminder Ben Bowns has impressed enough once again to earn a call-up as second-choice netminder for Great Britain in Japan next month. Picture: Arthur Foster.
INTERNATIONAL CALLING: Hull Stingrays' netminder Ben Bowns has impressed enough once again to earn a call-up as second-choice netminder for Great Britain in Japan next month. Picture: Arthur Foster.
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BEN Bowns’s impressive form for Hull Stingrays has been recognised after he was named in the Great Britain squad for next month’s Olympic Pre-Qualifying tournament in Japan.

The 21-year-old former Sheffield Steeldogs goaltender heads to the Far East as understudy to No 1 choice Stephen Murphy. On his two previous full international call-ups, Bowns has been the third-choice stopper, with head coach Tony Hand this time opting to take only two goalies, with Sheffield Steelers’ No 2 Geoff Woolhouse the first reserve.

Britain face Romania, Korea and Japan over the weekend of November 9-11 in Nikko with the group winners progressing to a final qualification round in February next year.

Bowns has won many admirers since stepping up to the Elite League with Hull as their starting netminder this season, making him an even more obvious candidate for international duties.

But while his selection is his country’s gain, his club will suffer somewhat as a result, with Bowns set to miss that weekend’s double header against Coventry Blaze, while also being a doubt for the trip to Gardiner Conference rivals Fife Flyers the following Tuesday (Nov 13).

“It is great to be included in the squad,” said Bowns.

“Japan will probably be the favourites but I feel we can progress to the next stage.

“If we made it to the next round it might shock a few people, but not us – we know we have a good team.

“It does mean I will miss a couple of games for Stingrays, but it is always an honour to play for your country.”

Stingrays player-coach Sylvain Cloutier applauded Bowns’s inclusion in the national set-up once again, but admitted his goalie’s call-up left him with a headache for that weekend.

“From a selfish point of view I don’t want him to go as we are going to miss him, but I am really happy for him,” said Cloutier.

“He thoroughly deserves to be in the squad – he is the future starting goalie for GB. Ben has so much potential and he has been doing a great job for us.”

GB squad: Netminders – B Bowns (Hull Stingrays); S Murphy (Belfast Giants). Defence: D Meyers (Sheffield Steelers), B O’Connor (Arlan Kokshetau), D Phillips (Belfast Giants), M Richardson (Arlan Kokshetau), R Sarich (Sheffield), M Thomas (Sheffield), J Weaver (Nottingham Panthers). Forwards: D Clarke (Nottingham), R Dowd (Troja-Ljungby), R Farmer (Braehead Clan), M Garside (Belfast), J Hewitt (Sheffield), P Hill (Cardiff Devils), R Lachowicz (Nottingham), D Longstaff (Guildford Flames), M Myers (Nottingham), C Peacock (Belfast), J Phillips (Sheffield), C Shields (Sheffield), A Tait (Sheffield).

ANDY Ward has praised the medical teams of Hull Stingrays and Sheffield Steelers after being taken to hospital with concussion on Sunday night.

The 30-year-old British forward was knocked unconscious following a hit by Steelers’ NHL star Tom Sestito during Stingrays’ 4-2 Challenge Cup defeat.

Sestito was assessed a match penalty for a check to the head, although Steelers are appealing the decision which carries a minimum three-game ban and means, as it currently stands, the American will miss next weekend’s crucial double header at Belfast Giants.

“I don’t remember anything about it to be honest – I came round in the room and went to hospital,” said Ward. “I want to say thank you to everyone who took care of me on the ice and afterwards.

“I had a CT scan to check for swelling and bleeding and that came back all clear. I also had a few deep cuts which they cleaned up.

“It’s happened and I need to deal with it. It is unfortunate timing as I was starting to get a regular shift and I was really enjoying it out there.”