Russell opts out of Latvia trip

Pete Russell has made the difficult decision to join his team in Latvia for the World Championships this week (PHOTO: Ice Hockey UK)

Great Britain’s Men’s head coach Pete Russell will stay at home for the World Championships in Latvia, with assistant coaches Adam Keefe and Corey Neilson taking the team instead.

Russell has decided to stay home for family reasons after just returning to the UK from a long nine months in Germany where his Freiburg side went to the DEL2 semi-finals and were eliminated last week in five games against Bietigheim-Bissingen.

And he has pledged his support to Keefe and Neilson as he explained why he felt he couldn’t hit the road again.

“My family have been so supportive throughout my career, but nine months is a long time away from your wife and daughter,” Russell said.

“I came home and just spending time with my daughter, it become apparent it would be tough for me to go away again straight away. To come back after nine months and leave two days later would be pretty heartless.

WATCH NOW: GB coach Pete Russell on why he’s not going to Latvia (Courtesy of Ice Hockey UK)

“I have missed a lot of things. I missed my daughter’s cleft palate operation when I was GB Under-20s coach.

“My wife had breast cancer at the last tournament in Slovakia and I was only able to get back for two days when she had her operation.

“My family have backed me all the way and I just felt this time the right thing was to do was to make myself unavailable.

“Andy Buxton, Andy French and Clifton Wrottesley were very supportive and understood the situation.

“GB has meant a lot to me for the past 18 years of my life, so this was not an easy decision to make. The journey we have made to get where we are, you never want to miss out on that.

“Adam and Corey are top coaches and I don’t think it is a big issue for them, but anything they need I will be there for them.”

GB pair Corey Neilson and Adam Keefe (either side of Pete Russell) will take the team in Latvia (PHOTO: Scott Wiggins)

Ice Hockey UK Chair, Clifton Wrottesley offered his and the IHUK board’s support to their head coach with GB’s first game against Russia on Saturday

“As a board, we fully support Pete’s decision concerning this year’s World Championship,” he said.

“I am sure it was a very difficult decision for him to make, but we 100 per cent stand by him with his decision.

“I know Pete will be active in being part of the coaching team back home and we look forward to Adam, Corey and Goaltending Coach Euan King leading the team in Latvia.

“I’m sure everyone joins me in wishing Pete, the players, the coaches and the support staff all the very best for the upcoming World Championship tournament in Latvia.”

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