Sheffield Steelers forward impressed by standard that Great Britain will be playing at - Cardiff Devils' goalie excited too

Liam Kirk, pic by Dean Woolley
Liam Kirk, pic by Dean Woolley
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Sheffield forward Liam Kirk says the start of his first World Championship trip with Great Britain has been an "amazing experience so far".

The 18-year-old was named in Pete Russell's 23-man squad after an impressive season with Steelers.

"It has been very special so far and you can tell you are just one step away from the top level," said Kirk, ahead tomorrow's World Championship Division I Group A against Slovenia.

"The facilities here are fantastic and the teams we are going to play will be top quality.

"I have been watching Slovenia practice and they seem exceptional."

GB had their first training session in the Papp László Budapest Sportaréna today after training in the smaller Vasas Ice Centre venue on Friday.

Ben Bowns - South Yorkshire-born netminder

Ben Bowns - South Yorkshire-born netminder

Kirk won the gold medal with GB at the U18 World Championship Division II Group A at the start of the month and he says he has already noticed a different in the surroundings.

"Winning the gold medal was very special but this level of hockey is something else" continued Kirk.

"Just noticing the amount of media interest and the set-up here in the arena shows how important this tournament is.

"I have been welcomed into the dressing room by the team and it was useful that I have played with and against this guys this season.

"But it's great to be part of this roster and I am looking forward to the tournament.”

GB netminder Ben Bowns says the squad have settled in well.

GB come into the tournament on the back of last season's promotion from Division I Group B in Belfast, while Slovenia were relegation from the top-level World Championship.

The Cardiff Devils netminder is under no illusions about the task ahead this week.

"We will face five very tough games this week but it is something we are all looking forward to doing," said Bowns.

"For example, Slovenia played in the Olympics earlier this year and were in the top flight last season.

"The squad has settled in well and we have had a couple of great training sessions since arriving in Budapest."

Eight players will make the full GB World Championship debuts tomorrow, but Bowns says the new guys have settled in well.

"This is a different roster from the one which won promotion in Belfast last year," he added.

"But there are loads of guys with experience and the new guys are already very much part of the squad.

"There is an air of excitement about the camp and we can't wait to get going."