Cardiff Devils have four players in Great Britain’s team for next month’s ice hockey qualifiers for the 2022 Beijing Olympics.
Josh Batch, who has been on the wing for Devils, is named among the defensive corps along with Mark Richardson, while goalie Ben Bowns and forward Matthew Myers complete the Cardiff contingent.
Head coach Pete Russell has named three Welsh-born players selected – Jonathan Phillips (Sheffield Steelers) and Ben Davies (Guildford Flames).
The Olympic pre-qualifiers run from Thursday February 6 to Sunday, February at the Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham.
Great Britain, Estonia, Hungary and Romania will battle it out for a place in the final qualifiers in August.
There are first GB call-ups for Travis Ehrhardt, Brendan Connolly and Scott Conway.
“Picking this group was tough, but in a good way because there is serious competition for spots,” said Russell.
“The guys we added into the group are having really good seasons so far and we could not ignore their progress at this stage.
“In-season tournaments are a little different from the World Championship and the in-form guys can help us hit the ice with strong confidence levels.
“It’s a short preparation and only three games that await us, so we have to be ready both mentality and physically right from the start.
“Some really good players have not made the 22 and I am sure those guys will finish the season strong to look to force the way back into the World Championship group.
“But right now it’s about the challenge that awaits us all in Nottingham and it’s not an easy one.
“We will, as always, respect our opponents and be backed by our own fans as the home nation. What a great opportunity and experience awaits us all.”
The tournament starts on Thursday, February 6 with Hungary facing Estonia before GB take on the Romania in the evening.
After Friday’s rest day, Hungary will face Romania on Saturday afternoon, with Estonia against Great Britain in the evening.
The final day of the tournament is Sunday and Estonia round-off their matches by facing Romania, while Great Britain play Hungary.
Sheffield Steelers’ official Dave Simms says Cardiff Devils’ Elite League home fixture this Saturday could prove to be a ‘title decider’.
League leaders Steelers visit the Viola Arena in Cardiff Bay on Saturday (7pm). Cardiff are three behind Sheffield with four fixtures in hand.
The match will be a sell-out and Simms says in his regular Sheffield Star newspaper column: “My honest view is that the game on Saturday is as close to a title decider as you can get in January.
“Steelers lead the league, but Cardiff have games in hand. If they were to win those games they would be five points clear. Should they beat the Steelers on Saturday that would be seven.
“No team is pulling seven points back from Cardiff in two months. Steelers have played some of their best hockey against Cardiff this season, but are yet to beat them. Saturday is a must-win.”
Great Britain squad:
Ben Bowns – Cardiff Devils
Jackson Whistle – Nottingham Panthers
Josh Batch – Cardiff Devils
Dallas Ehrhardt – Manchester Storm
Travis Ehrhardt – Glasgow Clan
Steve Lee – Guildford Flames
Ben O’Connor – Sheffield Steelers
David Phillips – Sheffield Steelers
Mark Richardson – Cardiff Devils
Paul Swindlehurst – Belfast Giants
Ollie Betteridge – Nottingham Panthers
Brendan Connolly – Sheffield Steelers
Scott Conway – Atlanta Gladiators (ECHL)
Ben Davies – Guildford Flames
Robert Farmer – Lausitzer Fusche (DEL2)
Luke Ferrara – Coventry Blaze
Mike Hammond – Lausitzer Fusche (DEL2)
Ben Lake – Belfast Giants
Matthew Myers – Cardiff Devils
Brett Perlini – Nottingham Panthers
Jonathan Phillips – Sheffield Steelers
Ross Venus – Coventry Blaze