The Draft for the 2021 Elite Series took place last night with Great Britain internationals dominating the selections over the course of the evening.

The four-team tournament – which is all being held at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham – gets under way next month involving Coventry Blaze, Manchester Storm, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers.

The four clubs were able to protect five players each who either played for that team in 2019-20, had been signed for the 2020-21 season before it was cancelled, or are already under contract for season 2021-22.

Thirteen of the protected players are full GB internationals and have represented their country at a World Championship, while the other seven have so far represented Great Britain at a junior World Championship.

The protected players were announced by the Elite League and the four clubs yesterday afternoon…

Coventry Blaze Manchester Storm Nottingham Panthers Sheffield Steelers
David Clements Dallas Ehrhardt Ollie Betteridge Brendan Connolly
Luke Ferrara Joe Hazeldine Robert Lachowicz Robert Dowd
Alex Forbes Ciaran Long Brett Perlini Liam Kirk
Jordan Hedley Zach Sullivan Josh Tetlow David Phillips
Ross Venus Finlay Ulrick Jackson Whistle Jonathan Phillips

The Draft for the remaining British players then took place last night – hosted by Todd Kelman – and the drama began at the very start.

Nottingham traded away some of their high picks to ensure first pick and they selected GB netminder Ben Bowns.

The teams also selected three players each in their Taxi Squad for injuries or if players need to sit out under covid-19 protocols.

These players will be invited to train with the teams when needed and may be called up if players abroad are unable to return due to playoff commitments.

Thirteen of the Draft picks have represented Great Britain at a men’s World Championship and 22 of the picks have so far pulled on a GB shirt at a junior World Championship.

The draft selections for each team are below…

Coventry Blaze Manchester Storm Nottingham Panthers Sheffield Steelers
Pick 3 – Mike Hammond Pick 2 (traded pick with Panthers) – Ben Lake Pick 1 (traded pick with Storm) – Ben Bowns Pick 4 – Matthew Myers
Pick 6 – Paul Swindlehurst Pick 7 (traded pick with Panthers) – Josh Batch Pick 9 (traded pick with Storm) – Lewis Hook Pick 5 – Sam Jones
Pick 11 – Cole Shudra Pick 8 – Ben Davies Pick 15 – Mark Garside Pick 12 – Joshua Waller
Pick 14 – Sam Duggan Pick 10 (traded pick with Panthers – Craig Peacock Pick 16 (traded pick with Storm) – Owen Griffiths Pick 13 – Alex Graham
Pick 19 – Mac Howlett Pick 17 – Matt Haywood Pick 18 – Kieran Brown Pick 20 – Ben Churchfield
Pick 22- Toms Rutkis Pick 24 – Declan Balmer Pick 23 – Jordan Kelsall Pick 21- Jason Hewitt
Pick 27 – Ivan Antonov Pick 25 – Stephen Murphy Pick 26 – Craig Garrigan Pick 28 – Adam Jones
Taxi Squad Taxi Squad Taxi Squad Taxi Squad
Pick 30 – Sam Russell Pick 32 – Jacob Lutwyche Pick 31 – Liam Stenton Pick 29 – Jack Musil
Pick 35 – Will Bray Pick 33 – Ben Solder Pick 34 – Morgan Clarke-Pizzo Pick 36 – Curtis Warburton
Pick 38 – Austin Mitchell-King Pick 40 – Sam Gospel Pick 39 – Will Kerlin Pick 37 – No selection

Click here for a chronological order of the Draft picks on the EIHL website.

Speaking earlier this week, GB head coach Pete Russell said: “It is a huge showcase for British players, especially those who want to break into the national team.

“We will be watching the performances closely of every British player that is involved.”

Photo credit: Dean Woolley.