Comment: Surely not another SPOTY snub?

Peter Russell GB
GB Men's head coach Pete Russell has named his roster for Finland (PHOTO: Dean Woolley)

As the great and the good of British sport get ready to pat themselves and each other on the back on another terrific year in Aberdeen next month for the occasion of the BBC Sports Personality of the Year, will ice hockey be snubbed again?

The nominations for this year’s award was announced across Monday with six names all up for the top prize and there’s no doubt the lucky six have excelled in what has been another big year for sport in the UK.

But it was another year of on-ice heroism for the Great Britain ice hockey team.  The question is, will any love be shown to Pete Russell and his men for their 2019?

You’ll recall, in a year when Russell led the team to promotion, not one mention was given, leading to him having a pop at the Beeb for ignoring what had gone on in Budapest.

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It would be a fair argument to say it was maybe more worthy last year because of how the team won Division 1A to book their spot in Kosice earlier this year.  They topped a very difficult group of course.

This year?  Yes, there were some pretty energy sapping losses and the overall picture of 13th out of 16 doesn’t look as impressive compared to 12 months ago.

However, GB competed at the top level for the first time in 25 years.  They went toe to toe with these vastly superior teams in all, but one of the games, despite the relatively one-sided scorelines.

In the context of what the team were up against, just managing to stay at the top table against the big hitters of USA, Canada and eventual gold medallists Finland is bloody good going.

(PHOTO: Dean Woolley)

And if Ben Davies’ overtime goal isn’t worthy of a mention at least in despatches as a moment of the year, then we’ve got a problem.  Ben Stokes in the Cricket World Cup Final is one thing, but Davies’ finish from Jonathan Phillips’ assist is spine-tingling stuff.

I would go so far as to say Russell deserves a nomination in the top category because of his sterling work this year and it’s largely because of him, the GB team are looking forward to locking horns with the Canadians again in Lausanne in 2020.

I’m absolutely not taking anything away from the achievements that those have been nominated for have done.  You can’t ignore a sixth Formula One World Championship for Lewis Hamilton or Alyn Wyn Jones in helping Wales to the Rugby Union Grand Slam and a Rugby World Cup Semi Final.

However, I would love to know if Pete’s name has came up in a conversation somewhere at Media City at some point in the build-up to this year’s show in Aberdeen.

Ben Bowns played a starring role in Kosice this year (PHOTO: Dean Woolley)

Petr Cech and his involvement in ice hockey has given the sport a lot of exposure this year so imagine what having Pete Russell up there with the likes of Stokes, Dina Asher-Smith and Raheem Sterling would do for it.

The fact it might not is not a surprise sadly and just when it seems like we appear to be making strides, this serves as a reminder that we’re not as in the public consciousness as we’d like or even should be.  Maybe it could be different this year.

I live in hope that ice hockey can come out of the shadow of some of the other sports and be taken seriously to the point it can attract regular coverage in the mainstream media.

But in the meantime, we all appreciate the work being done by Pete Russell in the GB team and hope they can push on again in 2020 and hopefully, Ben’s big moment will be shown in homes all over the country to people who didn’t see it.

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