Bowns underlines reputations with GB call up

SHEFFIELD Steeldogs’ netminder Ben Bowns has justified growing claims he is the country’s best up-and-coming goalie after being selected for the Great Britain squad to contest next week’s World Championship Division One tournament in Kiev, Ukraine.

The 20-year-old Sheffield-born stopper be hoping to push rival goaltenders Stephen Murphy and Nathan Craze of the Belfast Giants hard for the starting berth when Paul Thompson’s team line-up against Ukraine in their opening Group B match next Sunday (6.30pm UK time).

Bowns is joined by the Sheffield Steelers quartet of Ashley Tait, Jonathan Phillips, Jason Hewitt and Mark Thomas, along with Robert Dowd who last week left the Elite League champions to join rivals the Belfast Giants.

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Lee Mitchell - who has left Hull Stingrays to join rivals the Dundee Stars - is not included in the squad following an injury-hit season for Sylvain Cloutier’s team.

Bowns is joined by three other players handed their first World Championship call-ups, Nottingham Panthers’ duo Corey Neilson and Robert Lachowicz, along with former Steelers’ forward Jeff Hutchins, who last year played with the Edinburgh Capitals.

Great Britain warmed up for the championships with two comfortable wins over the Netherlands last weekend, before Thompson and his assistants settled on a final group of 23.

“I’m now very happy with the decisions that have been made,“ said Thompson. “They are the right decisions for the programme and for what we feel we need out in Kiev.

“Every player who played in the games against the Netherlands impressed me. They all gave it everything and deciding which players to release was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in coaching.”

GB squad for World Championships, Kiev, April 17-23:

Netminders: Ben Bowns, Nathan Craze, Stephen Murphy.

Defencemen: Russell Cowley, Danny Meyers, Corey Neilson, Ben O’Connor, David Phillips, Mark Richardson, Mark Thomas, Jonathan Weaver.

Forwards: David Clarke, Robert Dowd, Jason Hewitt, Phil Hill, Jeff Hutchins, Robert Lachowicz, David Longstaff, Matthew Myers, Greg Owen, Jonathan Phillips, Colin Shields, Ashley Tait