Youngsters aiming for World Championship gold in Dumfries

SHEFFIELD STEELERS' duo Liam Kirk and Cole Shudra are this week expected to play an integral role in Great Britain Under-20s' World Championship campaign, which gets underway in Scotland tomorrow.

INTERNATIONAL CALLING: Sheffield Steelers' Cole Shudra will play as a forward in Dumfires for GB Under-20s. Picture: Dean Woolley

Both teenagers have made great strides under Steelers’ head coach Paul Thompson in the Elite League this season and will be in the line-up when the hosts launch their bid for a gold medal against Romania at Dumfries Ice Bowl (8pm).

Both players scored in Thursday night’s final warm-up game against Korea, which saw the hosts enjoy a comfortable 5-2 triumph.

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Shudra has been used primarily in a defensive role by the Steelers this season, but will be used as a forward by head coach Slava Koulikov.

Shudra and Kirk’s Steelers’ team-mate Kieran Brown was also part of the 22-strong squad before being forced to withdraw through injury on Thursday, his spot being taken by Basingstoke Bison forward Josh Smith.

Hull Pirates’ Tom Stubley is one of seven defencemen in the squad.

“It was obviously a real disappointment for Kieran and it is such a shame he has had to pull out with injury,” said Koulikov. “But we have a talented squad and I said at the time of naming the roster that some quality players missed out on the final selection.”

On his team’s final warm-up game, Koulikov added: “I think we did alright. There were some good points and some points we can correct.

GOLD RUN: Liam Kirk will be looking to help GB Under-20s earn a medal this week in Dumfries. Picture: Dean Woolley.

“It is only one game but it was a game against a good opponent. It has been an interesting few days and a lot of work has taken place on and off the ice.”

The tournament’s opening game sees Japan take on the Netherlands, with Korea then facing-off against Estonia before the hosts take to the ice.

GOLD RUN: Liam Kirk will be looking to help GB Under-20s earn a medal this week in Dumfries. Picture: Dean Woolley.