GB forward Liam Kirk believes Sheffield Steelers can be a force again next season

Even from 3,500 miles away, it must have been painful to watch.

Wednesday, 1st May 2019, 12:34 pm
Updated Thursday, 2nd May 2019, 3:30 pm
Liam Kirk - picture by Scott Wiggins

Liam Kirk, a Sheffield Steeler through-and-through, kept in touch with his former team from afar, as he lived his own dream of a first season on the north American ice hockey circuit.

The Maltby-born NHL draftee, now playing for Rob Wilson's Peterborough Petes in the Ontario Hockey League as well as for Great Britain in this month's World Championships in Slovakia, sadly witnessed an epic failure from his home team.

Yet Kirk has high hopes of a big turn-around in time for season 2019-20.

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"It wasn't the season they would have wanted" said the 19-year-old with typical understatement. "It was a tough year in a league which keeps getting better and better - teams like Guildford Flames and Dundee Stars can beat you on any given night.

"But Sheffield will bounce back, I am sure of that. They have kept the core of their British players Ben O'Connor, Robert Dowd, Jonathan Phillips and Davey Phillips.

"And because of that they can build and I am not worried about them at all."

Last June, Kirk was drafted by the Arizona Coyotes, before being sent to the OHL.

"It took longer for me to adjust than I thought it would" he admitted. "It was a new way of life but I have enjoyed it."

Kirk's immediate focus after icing back at Sheffield Arena last weekend for GB. is to perform to his utmost for GB in the elite surrounds of the World Championships.

GB will be up against Germany, Canada, Denmark, USA, Finland, Slovakia and France from May 11-20 in Kosice as they play in their first top-flight World Championship for 25 years.

On Saturday, they will have their final warm-up, against the host nation.

"It is all a bit surreal, really" said the winger. "Playing against teams and players of that calibre is very exciting and a great expereince for all of us.

"Growing up, you'd want to play against teams like Canada and America in particular and it is going to be a big challenge. We'll all be up for it."

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