TRIO APPOINTED GB UNDER-16S ASSISTANT COACHES

Ice Hockey UK’s Great Britain Programme Board have appointed Natalie Aldridge, Simon Leach and Robert Wilkinson as the assistant coaches of Great Britain Under-16s.

Aldridge has 40 Great Britain Women’s caps to her name, winning a gold medal, two silvers and a bronze.

The 27-year-old, who had a two-year spell playing in Canada, is currently coaching with Bracknell Queens Bees and is part of the South West Conference set-up.

“I am extremely honoured to assist the Under-16 GB national team,” said Aldridge.

“This is an important, talented group that needs focus and I believe I can contribute to push the players and the programme, so we have a positive future and have players prepared to compete and achieve.

“I am excited to get started and am grateful to Tony Hand and the rest of the board for believing in me and giving me the opportunity.”

Leach has worked in the GB junior programme as an assistant coach for the under-18s, winning a bronze medal at the U18 World Championship Division 2 Group A in 2015.

He has previously held coaching positions with Whitley Warriors, Solway Sharks and Billingham Stars.

The 42-year-old had an extensive playing career in the UK and iced in the Elite League for Newcastle Vipers.

“I will be looking to use my experience of the past four years as an assistant coach with the GB Under-18s to help prepare the players coming through at under-16 level for World Championship hockey in the future,” Leach said.

“Representing GB is always an honour and I look forward to this new challenge that awaits.”

Wilkinson, 46, iced for Durham Wasps, Newcastle and Whitley Warriors as a player and represented Great Britain U20s and U18s.

He has led the reformation of the Great Britain Under-16s in the last couple of seasons.

“I am happy to still be involved,” said Wilkinson. “I am looking forward to working with the new coaching staff.

“It will be a different role for me, but hopefully I can use my experience and help Steven into his new role and look forward to having a good year.” |

IHUK national development head coach, Tony Hand, said: “These are three more exciting appointments for the GB junior programme.

“Robert already has experience at this level and will be so valuable with his knowledge.

“Simon also had vast experience in the GB junior set-up and has a lot to offer the programme.

“Natalie is a very highly-regarded young coach and is well thought of across the country. She gave a fantastic presentation and impressed us all.

“I would like to thank Scott Plews for his input in the under-16 programme over the last few years.

“We now have a strong structure in place and we believe that this will move GB very much in the right direction.”