ELITE SERIES HAS BEEN GREAT PREPARATION FOR GB – LONG

Ciaran Long battles with Davey Phillips

Forward Ciaran Long says the 2021 Elite Series has been great preparation for Great Britain for next month’s World Championship in Latvia.

Long, who is icing for Manchester Storm in the four-team tournament, made 17 appearances for GB’s junior sides and yesterday received his first call-up to represent the national side at a major championship.

The 30-year-old has scored six goals and contributed four assists for 10 points in his 10 games of the Elite Series so far.

His goals tally of six puts him joint-fourth in the goalscoring charts, two behind his new GB team-mate Liam Kirk.

“It has been really good,” said Long. “We definitely needed it. I was fortunate to get five weeks in the NIHL Series as well.

“Fitness is only going to get better as the next few games come ahead. The intensity of the games is building up which is good to be a part of.

“And we all have to look at the bigger picture too and be grateful for getting on the ice. There’s a bunch of guys not able to skate right now. It’s nice to do what we do with the current circumstances.”

GB will face Russia, Slovakia, Denmark, Belarus, Sweden, Czech Republic and Switzerland between 22nd May and 1st June at the Group A venue of the Olympic Sports Centre in Riga.

Long continued: “I am really excited. There is no bigger stage to try and see where your game is at, playing against these guys who get paid fortunes to play the game.

“I am also excited as in my last year with GB Under-20s I did a lot of ligament damage in my shoulder in the second game. I was gutted that it was my last time in a GB shirt.

“It has been a long time trying to make my GB breakthrough but I really happy to finally get in there.

“It’s hockey, you can’t give up trying. It’s like anything in life, you don’t get gifted anything. You just have to keep working hard and hopefully get rewarded for it in the end.

“Confidence is a key thing and it was nice to get playing in the Elite Series, scoring a few goals early-on and keeping it rolling through the series too.”

Four teams – Coventry Blaze, Manchester Storm, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers – are competing in the 2021 Elite Series at the National Ice Centre.

The event has been organised under the government’s Elite Sport Guidance, with regular testing and a full covid-19 protocol in place.

The tournament is forming part of Great Britain’s preparations for the upcoming World Championship in Latvia.

All games are available to watch on a live stream – click here for more details and to purchase the webcasts.

Photo credit: Dean Woolley.