Russian threat to Great Britain’s ice hockey preparations
Great Britain and Sheffield Steelers' skipper Jonathan Phillips says the national team must not be blown out of the water when they take on crack KHL side Torpedo Nizhny Novgorod this weekend.
The back-to-back games at Nottingham (Saturday) and then Sheffield Arena (Sunday, 4pm) will be a severe test against the highly disciplined skaters from the Volga River.
The exhibition games are the final element of GB's preparations in the UK for next month’s World Championship in Slovakia – and a good performance is necessary with the best players in the world awaiting their arrival.
The Russian squad features some Canadians, including ex Los Angeles Kings goalie Barry Brust.
After that challenge, GB face 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.
The Sheffield winger said: “Training camp has gone great so far and we have had two excellent games against Italy and Hungary. They were two really tough encounters but we took a lot from them for sure.
“The squad has been together for over a week now and you can see that things are really clicking into place.
“I expect Torpedo to be formidable opposition, just like Riga were back in February. It was a fantastic night against Riga in Coventry and I am sure these two games will be no different.
“Playing in Sheffield will be special too. It is not often that I have had the chance to pull on a GB jersey on home ice so I am really looking forward to that” said Phillips a World Championship (D1A) Gold Medalist in 2017-2018.
“These two games against Torpedo will be perfect preparations for what lies ahead of us in Slovakia next month.”
GB make their return to ice hockey’s elite for the first time since 1994 and it is a prospect that Phillips is relishing.
“I am not going to lie,” said Phillips. “I am really looking forward to the test ahead of us in Slovakia.
“We have had a fantastic few years as a team with two successive promotions and have worked so hard to get ourselves into this position.
“To be playing the best players in the world next month will be really special and something I know everyone is looking forward to doing.”