‘Hard work’ pays off as Sheffield Steelkings stars selected for Great Britain World Para Ice Hockey

Four Sheffield Steelkings players have been selected to represent Great Britain at the World Para Ice Hockey Championships B-Pool group in April.
Sheffield Steelkings' Ben O'BrienSheffield Steelkings' Ben O'Brien
Sheffield Steelkings' Ben O'Brien

Sheffield Steelkings players Bryan Hackworth, Damien Barker, Paul Brown and Ben O’Brien have made the main Great Britain squad and are joined by team-mates Jade Williams and Gaz Lawton who have been named in the reserve list.

On the selections, Steelkings coach Jake Oakley said: “I’m really proud of the ones that have been selected, they’ve put in the hard work and its always nice from a coaching point of view to see the hard work that we do collectively at the club pay off for individuals.”

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“They get to showcase themselves on a world stage and getting to compete in Norway will be a great experience for a lot of them and they’ll be up against some very good teams but fingers crossed that they can do enough to stay in the group.”

Sheffield’s Barker will be making his GB debut at the tournament alongside three other rookies who have been named in the squad for the World Championships.

Sheffield Steelkings' Damien BarkerSheffield Steelkings' Damien Barker
Sheffield Steelkings' Damien Barker

The defenceman will therefore add a Great Britain cap to his Para Ice Hockey journey in which he has been part of the Steelkings’ development side just last year.

"It's great for him," Oakley said. "He’s only recently become an amputee, having had his lower leg removed in 2023, so getting his call up now has been really good. I’m hoping that this also spurs him on as well. Because now he’s made it once I’m hoping he’ll find that his game will boost to the next level because he has new goals to strive for."

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Alongside becoming the British Playoff Champions last season the Steelkings became the Northwest Europe Para Ice Hockey League Champions for a consecutive year.

The selection of these players, alongside J.B. Mellor who despite playing in Canada is registered for the Steelkings next season, is another reward for the team who have been at the top of the sport for the past few years.

On the recent success of the team and its players, Oakley said: "it’s really good that we’re getting all of these players coming into us, who are working hard to find this next level. It really is a testament to the hard work we do at the Steelkings in training and playing games. We want the best for our players"

“I’m super proud of everybody and the reality is if there wasn’t such a cost factor involved I think we might have a couple more that could’ve made that squad.”

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Despite all of the players having to fund their own championships their selection for Team GB shows that Sheffield is at the forefront of not only Para Ice Hockey but disability sport on the whole.

However, the sport is not only building in Sheffield but also across other cities across the UK including Cardiff, Peterborough and Manchester which both have numerous players named in the GB squad.

On the success of Para Ice Hockey especially in Sheffield, Oakley said: “I think its amazing. I’m incredibly proud of Sheffield as a city, and I do love it when someone has a success story.

“I think its great when you can see anyone having success. It doesn’t matter who it is or whether its our club, when you see people from Sheffield being selected to represent their country, I think its always an amazing thing. So for the Sheffield Steelkings to be doing it too, I think its incredible.”

The Championship will run in Norway from Monday 15th to Saturday 20th April in which the Great Britain side will face Norway, Germany, Sweden, Kazakhstan and France in a round-robin tournament.

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