Sheffield Steelers youngsters take on one of world’s best teams

Jonathan Phiilips - a great servant for GB and Sheffield Steelers
Jonathan Phiilips - a great servant for GB and Sheffield Steelers
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Veteran Jonathan Phillips says the future of Great Britain ice hockey is in safe hands with a number of exciting youngsters coming through the programme.

GB play two international games next week against Norway, who are ranked 11th in the world and recently qualified for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The sides meet at the NIC in Nottingham on Tuesday and in Cardiff’s Ice Arena the following night (both 7:30pm).

Head coach Pete Russell has named a squad of 43, which will split to have one team playing Nottingham and another in Cardiff.

Sixteen-year-old Liam Kirk, who signed a three-year apprentice contract with Sheffield Steelers in the summer, will ice at Nottingham, as will Luke Ferrara, 23.

“In the past we haven’t had much time together as a squad,” said Phillips, the captain.

“This means it’s tough to see the younger kids coming through.

“This is a great opportunity for the younger guys to get their foot in the door to show what they can do.

“We have some exciting young British players, so it will be great to see them in an international game.”

Another exciting prospect included is Sam Duggan, 18, is playing at the top junior level in Sweden with Orebro.

And with a clutch of senior GB players closing in on retirement before the end of the decade, Phillips - who plays for Steelers tonight against Coventry Blaze - believes it’s important youngsters are given their chance.

“Age is creeping up on a few of us,” said Phillips. “At some point there will have to be a time when the young kids come in.

“This is definitely the time for them to show everyone what they can do.”

The UK will host this season’s World Championship (Division 1B) in Belfast in April and in addition to the two Norway games, GB will face Poland twice next year after the conclusion of the Elite League season.

“For us to keep improving as a hockey nation we need to keep playing these teams,” said Phillips.

“It is fantastic to play Norway in particular, who are such a good side.”

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