Belfast Giants netminder Stephen Murphy says home advantage will be important as Great Britain get ready to host the IIHF World Championship Division 1 Group B in Belfast.

The six-team tournament, taking place at the SSE Arena, is the first men’s World Championship to be held in the UK for 25 years.

GB begin the competition against Croatia on Sunday and will also face Estonia, Lithuania and Netherlands before going head-to-head with Japan on the last day.

“Everyone is excited to be playing on home ice this year, it will be something very special,” said Murphy. 

“The home crowd can be very important. UK hockey fans are very passionate and that is obvious throughout a league season.

“Players who come to this country from abroad often comment about the passion shown in the stands. 

“Then there’s the GB Barmy Army who support us across the world and are like an extra man out on the ice for us.

“We can achieve something special here but we know we have five tough games ahead of us.

“There are no easy games at this level but hopefully we can perform throughout the week to set us a chance of winning the gold medal and promotion.” 

Photo credit: Dean Woolley and Karl Denham.