KEEFE AND NEILSON TO LEAD GB IN LATVIA

Great Britain will be led by co-coaches Adam Keefe and Corey Neilson at the World Championship in Latvia.

GB head coach Pete Russell will remain in the UK with his family after only returning from Germany a couple of days ago.

Russell led his DEL2 side Freiburg to the semi-final round of the playoffs, before losing in five games to Bietigheim-Bissingen.

“My family have been so supportive throughout my career, but nine months is a long time away from your wife and daughter,” Russell said.

“I came home and just spending time with my daughter, it become apparent it would be tough for me to go away again straight away. To come back after nine months and leave two days later would be pretty heartless.

“I have missed a lot of things. I missed my daughter’s cleft palate operation when I was GB Under-20s coach.

“My wife had breast cancer at the last tournament in Slovakia and I was only able to get back for two days when she had her operation.

“My family have backed me all the way and I just felt this time the right thing was to do was to make myself unavailable.

“I spoke with Andy Buxton, Andy French and Clifton Wrottesley and they were very supportive – they understood the situation.

“GB has meant a lot to me for the past 18 years of my life, so this was not an easy decision to make. The journey we have made to get where we are, you never want to miss out on that.

“Adam and Corey are top coaches and I don’t think it is a big issue for them, but anything they need I will be there for them.”

Ice Hockey UK Chair, Clifton Wrottesley, said: “As a board, we fully support Pete’s decision concerning this year’s World Championship.

“I am sure it was a very difficult decision for him to make, but we 100 per cent stand by him with his decision.

“I know Pete will be active in being part of the coaching team back home and we look forward to Adam, Corey and Goaltending Coach Euan King leading the team in Latvia.

“I’m sure everyone joins me in wishing Pete, the players, the coaches and the support staff all the very best for the upcoming World Championship tournament in Latvia.”

GB, who will at based at the Olympic Sports Centre, start their Group A campaign against Russia on Saturday, before matches against Slovakia, Denmark, Belarus, Sweden, Czech Republic and Switzerland.

Group B – located at Arena Riga – consists of hosts Latvia, as well as Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, Norway and the USA.