PHILLIPS: ELITE SERIES HAS BEEN SO IMPORTANT FOR GB PREPARATIONS

Forward Jonathan Phillips has underlined how important the Elite Series has been in getting Great Britain prepared for this month’s World Championship in Latvia.

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.

A total of 26 of Pete Russell’s 28-man roster took part in the five-week tournament at the National Ice Centre, which saw Phillips’ Sheffield Steelers beaten 2-0 by Nottingham Panthers in the three-game series final.

Speaking with Ice Hockey UK TV – in association with SMP Europe – Phillips said: “Getting on the ice was massive for us but, most importantly, getting some competitive games under our belt.

“It has been fantastic. You need to get your conditioning back, your touches back and get that competitive edge back. To get this was massive for the programme.”

With rosters being increased from 25 to 28 for this year’s tournament and some experienced GB players unavailable, a number of younger players have been included in the team for Latvia.

“They need that experience, they need to be coming on these trips,” continued Phillips.

“Taking these guys now is important as they are going to be our future. We need to be giving them that exposure.

“Myself and Clarkey (David Clarke) got a chance to go to the Czech Republic when we were 16-17, straight from the under-20s for a pre-season tournament.

“It just gave us a little taste of what it was going to take and how to be a professional.”

Photo credit: Dean Woolley.