Great Britain’s preparations are continuing for next year’s 2024 Winter Youth Olympic Games in South Korea.
The men’s under-16s that will represent the country in January will be the first GB ice hockey team to enter the prestigious Youth Olympics.
The format – first used at the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Switzerland – sees three-on-three cross-ice matches taking place simultaneously.
GB’s young prospects were once again put through their paces at the Ozone Rink in Bracknell.
The day started with the goalies having their own session before the players had an hour working on puck protection and edge work.
Part of the day involved working on the unique three-on-three format in a game situation.
Head Coach, Danny Meyers, said:”We had received the official rules the day before the trial and so didn’t hesitate in getting the players used them by playing two separate games.
“I was worried at first when I saw the rules that it would take away from the game. However, I was completely wrong and what I saw was the most exciting hockey I have ever seen.
“The games were extremely fast and the lack of decision-making time really put them under a lot of pressure, but they responded well.
“The three-on-three game forces each player to play both ends of the ice and be comfortable in possession – all skills that will only enhance their five-on-five game.
“Of course, we still have a lot of work to do but I am very encouraged by the players and excited what we can build.”
Clifton Wrottesley, Chair of Ice Hockey UK, said: “Our research tells us that the skill level of our players in the UK up to the ages of 10 or 11 is broadly in line with those of our competitors around the world, but it is from then on that our performances diverge.
“The GB Programme intends to close that gap by identifying prospective Great Britain athletes earlier on in their potential elite pathway, to expose them to an elite coaching, training and competition environment earlier and for a more sustained period.
“Danny and the three-on-three GB Programme are just the first step in this process. There will be more to come.
“Having witnessed first-hand on two occasions the groundbreaking work that Danny, his team of coaches and support staff are doing with our aspiring GB three-on-three athletes, I can certainly confirm that this is an example of best practice.
“Who knows, this could be deemed world-class by the time we see the results from the Youth Olympics next year. I can’t wait and wish Danny and everyone involved the very best in their preparations for the Games.”
The next trial takes place on 23rd October before the final team is selected. They will then meet on 18th December and 2nd January for the final two camps ahead of the tournament.
The players will fly out with the rest of the Team GB for the Youth Olympics on 15th January.
GB will go head-to-head with Austria, China, Denmark, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Poland and Spain in the round-robin stages, with the top four teams progressing to the semi-finals.