GB Women U18 bid for Gold

Great Britain Women U18 Head Coach Michelle Smith says she is excited to see how the GB youngsters will fare at the upcoming World Championship (Division 1 Qualification) in Austria.

The tournament, which takes place from 7th to 11th January 2016, is split into two groups of four.

GB will be based in Radenthein and will take on Italy, Poland and Australia in Group B. Hosts Austria, along with China, Kazakhstan and Romania, make up Group A.

Each group winner will play in the gold-medal game on the final day of the tournament to win the right for promotion to Division 1.

Smith said: “We have an exciting young team and the coaching staff are looking forward to seeing what they can do.

“We have had excellent preparations with training camps, on and off the ice, along with the international tournament at iceSheffield back in November.

“I think we have a good squad but they will be tested each game by some quality nations. We need to play without fear and give everything out on the ice.

“It is a different type of World Championship tournament to normal with the two groups, but it looks an exciting format and the whole squad can’t wait to get going.”

16-year-old Amy Trueman (above) looks set for a bright future after being selected by Smith for the tournament.

The Solihull Barons junior player admitted she was delighted to be chosen to represent Great Britain.

“I started playing ice hockey three years ago – I’ve done plenty of sports in my childhood, however ice hockey is the only thing I have stuck to and my hard work has paid off,” she said.

“I had three trials in total for GB selection. When I was selected for the World Championships I couldn’t believe it – my first reaction was to go and ask my coaches for a hug.

“I play 14 games a season on average and compete with the boys on a regular basis – I really wouldn’t change it for anything.

“Women’s hockey is on the up – we’ve had games televised and the sport takes place nationally around the world.

“I’d definitely encourage other teenage girls to take up hockey – you don’t know what you’re missing out on – it’s great fun and you get a real buzz from playing.”

Amy’s sights are set on representing GB at senior level and she has also targeted playing professionally in Canada.

Sutton Sting’s Lizzie Saunders is the youngest member of Smith’s squad having just turned 14 in December. Lizzie is the daughter of ex-Sheffield Steelers player Bob Saunders who now coaches Sting’s U18 team.

Sutton’s co-founder Gary Apsley said Lizzie’s call-up was a proud moment for the club.

“In the last 12 months or so, Lizzie has developed a real edge to her game,” said Apsley.

“The Tilburg Tournament in April last year was one of the main turning points in her all-round game where Lizzie began to demonstrate the skills and determination that many of us had been patiently (or in my case impatiently!) been waiting to see.

“Selection to Team GB is a massive achievement and we know Bob and Sharon will be brimming with pride over what Lizzie is about to do and rightly so – with the countless hours spent at rinks in cars and on buses travelling to practice and games.

“For the rest of us at Sutton Sting we all share a sense of pride as we reflect on the small or large parts we’ve played in preparing Lizzie for the big stage. Congratulations and good luck to the team!”

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