DUGGAN: LEARNING HAS BEEN FUN WITH FULL GB TEAM

Sam Duggan will make his senior World Championship debut in Belfast on Sunday (4pm v Croatia).

The 18-year-old made the final cut of Peter Russell’s squad after playing in both pre-tournament games against Poland over Easter.

Duggan has worked previously with coach Russell at the GB junior levels, and has competed so far at three u18 tournaments and three u20 events.

Great Britain were the first team to practice on the relaid ice at SSE Arena and Duggan enjoyed the experience.

“It’s been a great couple of weeks for me,” Duggan said after practice.

“I managed to play quite a lot in the two games against Poland and being around the guys has been a great experience.

“I’m learning all the time but it’s been fun and I’m excited to get going on Sunday.”

The former Bracknell junior has been playing at Orebro in Sweden since 2014 and says the call up to the full Great Britain team is something he’d been dreaming of for a long time.

“It was a pretty amazing feeling when I found out I was in the final 23,” he said.

“It’s been a goal of mine to make this team so I was very happy to get the news.

“So far the hockey has been a lot quicker and the contact is a lot heavier than the u18 and u20 I’ve played before.  They’re men after all so along the boards and in the corners it’s more physical.

“I feel like I’ve dealt with it well so far but it’s a case of being quicker – whether that’s on the skates or in the head thinking of the next plays.”

And in terms of aims and expectations – what does Sam Duggan want from this week?

“Personally coming in to the team I’ve just got to take a night at a time and see what happens.  I’ll work my hardest every shift and hope for the best.”

Being a ‘home’ tournament, Duggan will have two proud supporters in the stands as his mother and father have tickets for all five GB encounters.

“They’re pretty excited.  They don’t miss much whether it’s watching my games live or on a stream – whenever they get the chance to come and watch they really enjoy it.”

Great Britain open their World Championship Division 1 Group B tournament on Sunday afternoon, 23 April, against Croatia. Face off at SSE Arena Belfast is at 4pm.  Tickets are still available for the whole tournament with a range of ticketing options.

GB games are also being covered live on Premier Sports and broadcast on BBC Sport via the website or Five Live Sports Extra.

Photo credit: Dean Woolley.