Great Britain head coach Pete Russell says cutting five of his squad ahead of the World Championship in Slovakia was one of the most difficult decisions the coaching staff have ever had to make.
Russell named a 25-man squad on Monday to represent GB next month in their first top-flight World Championship since 1994.
Britain will face Germany, Canada, Denmark, USA, Finland, Slovakia and France from 11th to 20th May in Group A in Kosice.
After a day off, the GB roster have returned to their training camp in Coventry this evening to prepare for back to back matches against KHL side Torpedo in the Motorpoint Arena Nottingham on Saturday and in the Fly DSA Arena Sheffield on Sunday.
Russell, who has led GB to back-to-back gold medals to take them from the third tier to the top tier of world ice hockey in only two years, said: “It was a very tough decision for myself and the coaching staff.
“The training camp was intense and everybody lifted each other with the intensity they performed at during the week and in the games against Italy and Hungary.
“I am so disappointed for all the players and it was not a nice conversation to tell them they had not made the final 25.
“Ciaran (Long) in particular had a great season and I feel really disappointed for him. I am sure he will get his chance next year.
“In the second practice a puck came up off the ice and caught the side of his ankle and he couldn’t walk for a couple of days and didn’t skate all week.
“He didn’t get the chance to show what he can do. I think Ciaran only got to skate twice because of his bad luck.
“We have to see any new squad player in a different environment, different systems and simply because international hockey is a different tempo and challenge.”
Russell revealed there is positive news on defenceman Stevie Lee who was injured at the backend of Nottingham Panthers’ domestic season.
“Stevie is in great shape,” added Russell. “He is skating twice a day and involved in all sessions at the camp.
“He is just raring to go now. He has another week or so and then we can really let him out the cage.”
Saturday 27th April: Great Britain v Torpedo 7pm – Motorpoint Arena Nottingham
Tickets are available online via the website, at the box office or by calling 0843 373 3000.
Sunday 28th April: Great Britain v Torpedo 4pm – Fly DSA Arena Sheffield
Tickets can be purchased online by clicking here or call the box office on 0114 256 5656.]
Photo credit: Scott Wiggins.