Delight for Davies over first GB call-up

THE CHOSEN ONE: Hull Stingrays' Matty Davies hopes to become a regular member of Great Britain's squad over the coming years. Picture: Arthur Foster.
THE CHOSEN ONE: Hull Stingrays' Matty Davies hopes to become a regular member of Great Britain's squad over the coming years. Picture: Arthur Foster.
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MATTY Davies is determined to make sure his call-up to the Great Britain national squad is the first of many.

The 22-year-old Hull Stingrays forward is named in today’s 32-man preliminary squad by coach Tony Hand ahead of next month’s Olympic qualifiers in Latvia.

The squad will meet for a two-day training camp in Manchester on January 21-22 after which it will be reduced to 22 names to face hosts Latvia along with France and Kazakhstan in Riga on February 7-10.

Britain are considered the rank outsiders in a tournament which will see the winners go to next year’s Winter Olympics in Russia.

Davies is joined in the squad by Hull team-mate and netminder Ben Bowns, along with seven players from Sheffield Steelers.

Jason Hewitt, Jonathan Phillips, Mark Thomas, Danny Meyers, Ashley Tait and netminder Geoff Woolhouse are all included again from the South Yorkshire club, along with Canadian-born defenceman Rod Sarich, who was picked for the last qualifying round before injury struck.

Davies, who has played for his country at Under-18 and Under-20 level, admitted he was surprised by his call-up but was keen to make a lasting impression.

“It was a bit of a surprise when I first heard, but it was a great feeling too,” he said.

“I’ve worked hard to improve my all-round game and get into the best shape possible for this season, so I suppose it’s nice to see that hard work being recognised.

“I’ve been handed more responsibility this season and I’m loving it. Playing against the best players in this league is only going to make me better as a player.

“I feel lucky to have been picked because there are a lot of good players in this squad who did so well getting through the last qualifying stage.

“I’m not expecting to go in there and make the final squad initially, but it’s going to be great to be involved in the training camp.

“But I’ve got two days to show what I can do and you never know what might happen – I’m going to give it a good shot.”

With 30 points in 35 games to his name, Davies is the sixth best-scoring British player in the Elite League, posting the most assists of all homegrown players with 27.

Such productivity and a willingness to improve his overall game means his first senior call-up is fully justified, according to Hull player-coach Sylvain Cloutier.

“Last season Matty had a frustrating time,” said Cloutier. “He came back wanting to produce more points but I also wanted him to improve his two-way game and he’s done that extremely well.

“He’s a very skilled player, but I’ve told him he needs to be a complete player and he’s well on his way to being that.

“He’s a got a lot more time on his side to develop – people forget how young Matty is because he’s very mature for his age.”

Provisional GB squad for Olympic qualifiers in Riga, Latvia (February 7-10).

Goaltenders: Stephen Murphy (Belfast Giants), Ben Bowns (Hull Stingrays), Geoff Woolhouse (Sheffield Steelers).

Defencemen: Stevie Lee (Nottingham Panthers), Danny Meyers (Sheffield Steelers), Ben O’Connor (Arlan Kokshetau), David Phillips (Belfast Giants), Kevin Phillips (Braehead Clan), Mark Richardson (Cardiff Devils), Rod Sarich (Sheffield Steelers), Mark Thomas (Sheffield Steelers), Jonathan Weaver (Nottingham Panthers).

Forwards: David Clarke (Nottingham Panthers), Russ Cowley (Coventry Blaze), Ben Davies (Cardiff Devils), Matthew Davies (Hull Stingrays), Robert Dowd (Troja- Ljungby), Robert Farmer (Braehead Clan), Mark Garside (Belfast Giants), Joe Greener (Basingstoke Bison), Jason Hewitt (Sheffield Steelers), Phil Hill (Cardiff Devils), Leigh Jamieson (Milton Keynes Lightning), Robert Lachowicz (Nottingham Panthers), David Longstaff (Guildford Flames), Matthew Myers (Nottingham Panthers), Aaron Nell (Swindon Wildcats), Greg Owen (Basingstoke Bison), Craig Peacock (Belfast Giants), Jonathan Phillips (Sheffield Steelers), Colin Shields (Belfast Giants), Ashley Tait (Sheffield Steelers).