Great Britain head coach Pete Russell says him and his team will be keeping a very close eye on the 2021 Elite Series.

The four-team mini-series – involving Coventry Blaze, Manchester Storm, Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers – will get under way next month.

The tournament has the backing of Ice Hockey UK and last week, chairman Clifton Wrottesley gave the EIHL his full support and said IHUK will be supporting the mini-series.

All matches are being held at the National Ice Centre in Nottingham, with the tournament being completed by the beginning of May.

This will be one of Russell’s last chances to look at players before the World Championship in May and for some players it will be the first time he’s seen them in action this season.

Speaking to the EIHL website, Russell said: “This series is the most important preparation most of our squad will have for Riga.

“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.

“The 2021 championships are unique because of the long break and so it will be very interesting for us to see who handles it best in terms of conditioning and performance.

“From being in Germany, I have seen first-hand what effects the extended off-season can have on players, so we need to make sure as many of our players as possible get competitive ice-time.”

EIHL Head of Hockey Operations, Mike Hicks, added: “Pete will be getting live streams and the footage of every game played in this series.

“It is not only the Elite League coaches that are working very hard ahead of the draft. We are preparing a lot of infrastructure, with much of these also being set up to ensure that the entire Great Britain coaching team has access to as much footage and statistics as possible.

“Additionally, we have been in constant contact with Pete and the Ice Hockey UK management to make sure that the set-up of the series gives Great Britain the best possible preparation for Riga.”

The four teams are allowed to protect five of their British players, while any remaining players will be entered into the first-ever Elite League Draft which will take place on Monday.

Find out more details about the format by clicking here.

Photo credit: Dean Woolley.