GB coach “couldn’t be happier” for Liam Kirk after NHL deal

Great Britain head coach Pete Russell has congratulated Liam Kirk on his entry-level NHL contract with Arizona Coyotes.

Kirk, 21, has agreed a three-year deal in a monumental moment for British ice hockey, three years after becoming the first English born and trained player to be drafted in the NHL.

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He scored seven goals in seven games in the recent IIHF World Championships in Latvia, finishing as the tournament’s joint-top scorer and being named in the all-star team.

Russell said: “It’s fantastic news for Liam.

“After an incredible World Championship, he gets an entry-level contract with Arizona in the NHL – it’s amazing. His journey is starting again and he’s now got a huge challenge ahead, but he’s a great guy and he has really developed as a player.

LISTEN: Arizona Coyotes Director of Player Development Mark Bell joined us on The BIH Show to talk about Kirk

“Just think how far he has come in the past few years, especially with that performance at the World Championship. I couldn’t be happier for him. He’s from a lovely family and is a great kid. I’m really excited for him.”

On the day the news broke, Kirk spent the day talking to the next generation of British ice hockey players as part of a three-day junior camp at Ice Sheffield.

Rotherham-born Kirk is a product of the Sheffield junior system and made his Steelers debut at the age of 16.

He signed for OHL side Peterborough Petes in 2018 where he spent two seasons and scored over 100 points, before the pandemic denied him a third year in one of the top junior leagues in North America.

He came through the GB junior programme and has won medals at all levels, starting with a gold with GB Under-18s in 2018.

Kirk won bronze with GB U20s in the same season and added a gold medal with the men’s team in Budapest, as part of the historic promotion-winning team to the elite level.

In 2019, he won another bronze with the under-20s as he led the team in goals, assists and points for a second successive season, while also being part of the GB team that avoided relegation from the World Championship top flight with a come-from-behind 4-3 overtime victory over France in their final game.

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