NEW COACHING STAFF UNVEILED FOR GB U18 WOMEN

James Ashton has been named as the new head coach of Great Britain Under-18 Women.

Ashton comes across from his previous assistant coach role with GB Women and will be assisted by Essi Aittasalo and Darryl Morvan.

Aittasalo, who is from Finland, was an assistant coach at the recent Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne and has previously linked up with the Finnish Ice Hockey Association. She worked alongside GB Women’s player Beth Scoon with Scotland’s first women’s university team – and is now working to promote safer sport within university ice hockey with vital injury research.

Meanwhile, Morvan returns to the GB Women’s programme after a spell away after undergoing chemotherapy.

Ashton said: “Its been a privilege and an honour to be part of the GB women’s programme for the past five years. I am passionate about giving our players the guidance and support they need to be successful at a World Championship.

“I am looking forward to being the under-18s head coach, working with the on ice and off-ice team that has been put together. I am confident that we can deliver a rewarding and positive experience for the players.

“Preparations are already being made to ensure we can get ready whilst making sure we all keep safe.”

Aittasalo said: “I am incredibly honoured to start this journey with the under-18 women and Great Britain hockey.

“This is a new and exciting challenge for me after being involved in hockey through several roles and graduating as a master of sport sciences with a focus on hockey performance. I’m looking forward to the road ahead working with the coaches and players once the season begins.”

Morvan said: “We’re seeing the value of the under-18s as so many are now graduating to the seniors and making strong contributions straight away, which is a testimony to the leadership and direction that Cheryl Smith has shown.

“And now with Tony Hand involved with the programme as well, I feel strongly it can only bode well for the future. I hated playing against him but I’m excited to be working with him, the other staff and, of course, the athletes.”

David Hand, chairman of the Great Britain Programme Board, said: “We are really excited by these coaching appointments.

“It is fantastic to have them work together with the women’s under-18s and it is especially good to see Darryl back after his chemotherapy. We think they will make a great trio as they all have important different attributes to bring to the programme.”

Ice Hockey UK would like to thank Jayne McClelland for her dedication to the women’s programme in the past few years.

Jayne is moving on from the GB Women’s set-up and we wish her all the best for the future.