Sheffield Steelers' group set to face speed test against KHL opposition

FIVE Sheffield Steelers players have been selected by head coach Pete Russell to take part in Great Britain's first warm-up game ahead of this year's World Championships.

Sheffield Steelers' Davey Phillips, Jonathan Phillips, Robert Dowd and Ben O'Connor, celebrate last year's Division 1A gold medal triumph with former Steelers' forward, Liam Kirk. Picture: Dean Woolley.

GB won promotion to the top tier for the first time since 1994 and will compete against such leading lights as Canada, USA and Finland in Slovakia in May.

As part of their preparations, Russell’s team will take on Dinamo Riga – one of the leading teams from the Kontinental Hockey League, regarded as one of the world’s top leagues featuring sides from Belarus, Finland, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Slovakia.

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Steelers’ forwards Robert Dowd and Jonathan Phillips are joined in Russell’s initial squad by defencemen Ben O’Connor and David Phillips, as well as netminder Jackson Whistle. They will face Riga at Coventry’s SkyDome Arena on February 6.

“It will be a massive test for us, but, the truth is we have to learn play against high speed as we are going to be have to be able to handle this in Pool A,” said Russell.

“For me, getting up to that speed and speed of thought will be the biggest challenge for us and we want to give as many players as possible the chance to impress.”