BARROW REFLECTS ON WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

Head coach Mark Barrow gives his thoughts on Great¬†Britain Inline’s recent World Championship Division 1 in Slovakia…

There is a fine line between fourth and gold at this level. We were the only team to give Slovenia a good game in what was effectively a one-goal semi-final game until we pulled our goalie, which then led to two empty-net goals. Some saying this was the final that should’ve been.

The lads gave everything in that semi, which didn’t leave much left in the tank for the bronze-medal game against Australia the following day.

The early schedule for the bronze-medal game was always going to be a tough one with not much time to pre-game skate, stay loose, eat and then rest before face-off time.

The experienced Aussie team came to play and were hungry to revenge their 7-1 loss to us in the group stage which, as it transpired, they eventually do and take bronze.

When I took on the role as head coach of this team in 2015, it was always my vision to bring through more of the next generation players to gain experience along side our veteran players.

In 2015, we had a squad of 14 which consisted of three rookies, three second-year guys and eight veterans at this tournament.

For this year’s 2017 championships and 16-man squad, I wanted to bring in a lot more young blood and introduced seven rookies into the program, alongside four 1-3 year guys, with only five veteran players left in the mix.

I knew this was a bold move but felt it was the right one for the team culture moving forward to 2019 in Canada.

With this young team I knew we could compete with the top teams, but still was realistic of how tough that may be with a relatively inexperienced group at these championships.

This was effectively a rebuilding year for the team and I believe has been a very successful one. I was very impressed with this young group and on a whole they showed great resilience and maturity throughout the tournament, growing together with each game we played.

I stand by my decisions of making long-term goals of longevity, which consist of winning promotion to Pool A and staying there, rather than quick-fix medals that in the past have led us being relegated the following year.

This year has given us a fantastic baseline to grow from and has lit the fires of these young players who now know what to expect and are now hungrier than ever to play for this team and each other.

We have two years now to regroup and prepare for Canada 2019 world champs.

We now have a team of young guys who have an amazing opportunity to write their own history for this team and to leave a legacy like those before them.

I would just like to take this opportunity to say some thank yous.

To Great Britain ice hockey and everyone who has been following and supporting the team these past few weeks. The support has been overwhelming and on behalf of myself, the staff and all the team, we thank you.

To Pitbul Aports for all our sweats, who came in at the last minute wanting to help us, Thank you. The gear was great.

To one of our jersey sponsors Milfield Autoparts, thank you.

To our amazing sponsors PuckStop and Jersey53 who have as always gone far and beyond the call of duty for this team and this year was no exception.

Making sure we have all the equipment, jerseys and off rink gear we need to feel and look the part, not to mention the social media support which again was incredible. Thank you.

Thank you to Ice Hockey UK’s Andy French for showing an interest in us. Hopefully we can continue working together, moving in a positive direction for both sport disciplines and the future of hockey in the UK.

Thank you to John Crawley for volunteering his time to this team and organising all of our equipment needs. His hard work never goes un noticed and is truly appreciated.

To assistant coach Chris Orme, thank you for being my counsel and an ear to bend. Your input and support during this process is invaluable and very much appreciated, couldn’t be done without you.

Finally to the players. Thank you for the time and dedication you have given to the team this year. Not the result you wanted but hopefully you can see the positives and be excited about the growth and possibilities that the future holds for this team. Let’s keep those fires lit fellas, Canada will be here before you know.

All the best for the rest of your seasons at nationals, etc.

Coach.