Two GB skaters a step closer to Olympic dream

Ice Hockey UK are delighted to announce the two players who will represent Great Britain at the IIHF Global Skills Challenge, in a bid to reach the Winter Youth Olympics in Norway.

Lewis Houston from Solway Sharks Ice Hockey Club and Verity Lewis of Bracknell Ice Hockey Club will now go forward to the Skills Challenge in Vierumaki, Finland in early July.

The best 15 male and 15 female skaters from his worldwide event will then go onto the Winter Youth Olympics in February 2016.

Participants take part in six disciplines; fastest lap, skating agility, pass accuracy, puck control, shooting accuracy and hardest shot.

IHUK held qualification rounds for both male and female over the last three months.

GB U18s coach Martin Grubb, who oversaw the male qualification, said: “I was delighted to be able to look at more than 40 players as part of the IIHF skills tests and I was really happy with the level of skills.

“It was great to see so many young players pushing themselves and the the level of competition was very high.

“It is a fantastic achievement for these young players to be selected and the improvement in the times as we got to the final selection event was amazing to see.

“The players deserve tremendous credit for the high compete level, improvement and commitment they have shown and the final three were only separated by a few points.

“It was great to see the level of skill the British young player has and now our responsibility is to ensure we can coach them into a complete hockey player and ensure they learn and understand the game as we can use their base skill level to make a real difference in the country.

“I would like to congratulate Lewis Houston on winning the event and also all the players for the tremendous improvements they have made over the course of these tests.”

Sean Alderson, coach of GB U18s Women, was in the charge of the female process. He said: “Verity has great technical skills, so it was no surprise that she won the female skills challenge.

“Verity impressed us last August whilst away with the England U16s girls in Finland, so much so that we brought her in to train with the GB U18s this season, despite her being too young for our World Championship this year.

“She was the clear winner in the fastest lap, skating agility and puck control tests, proving not only that she has good technical skills but has speed too.

“Verity is both very proud and excited to be going to Vierumakki to represent GB in the next round of the skills challenge and we all wish her well.”