Bradford Bulldogs’ Abbie Culshaw looking for GB to grab their moment in spotlight

BRADFORD BULLDOGS’ forward Abbie Culshaw believes GB Women face the most important few days in their recent history as they bid to take one big step towards the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Abbie Culshaw (No 6) celebrates scoring against Slovenia at the World Championships in 2019. Picture courtesy of Ice Hockey UK.

Mike Clancy’s team got their Olympic Qualifcation tournament off to a winning start last night at Nottingham’s National Ice Centre when they won 5-0 to Iceland.

The hosts play the second game of the four-day tournament tonight against Slovenia before rounding off their campaign against Korea on Sunday evening.

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For 23-year-old Culshaw, who first played for Bradford at Under-16 level back in 2013, last night marked her 11th cap for GB.

She was initially named as a reserve by Clancy and his coaching team but was called up to the main roster last month when Chloe Headland had to withdraw from the squad.

In terms of coverage and support, women’s hockey in the UK suffers in comparison to the men’s game, whose profile has risen in recent years since earning promotion to ‘Pool A’ of the World Championships to play alongside the likes of Canada, Russia and Finland.

But a lot of preparation has gone into the GB Women ahead of this week, with expectation levels rising due to the fact they are playing at the NIC and every game is being broadcast live on Freesports TV.

“That feeling of pulling the shirt on is always an absolute honour,” said Culshaw.

“Women’s hockey doesn’t get a lot of exposure but this tournament has had a lot – it is live on TV and there will be hundreds of fans in the stands.

“The team has perhaps under-performed a little bit in recent years, but there are expectations now given we’re on home ice. We’ve got a new head coach and they are doing all they can to push us further, just to make us the best team possible we can be and it feels like this is a strong team.”