Great Britain coach Pete Russell keen to establish ‘better relationship’ with Elite League

PETE RUSSELL admitted Great Britain’s relegation from the top tier of the World Championships was ‘gut-wrenching’ but hopes a ‘better relationship’ with Elite League teams can aid preparations for his team’s attempt to bounce back at the first attempt.
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GB were sent back down to Division 1A after their 5-3 defeat to Group B rivals Austria on Monday night in Tampere, Finland, bringing an end to their three-year spell in ‘Pool A’.

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While his players rightly came in for praise for the way they competed against a string of top-ranked nations in Finland, Russell was left wondering what might have been, believing his players did enough to win the game in regulation against Austria, a result that would have seen them retain their status.

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“In my eyes I thought we did enough to win that game,” said Russell. “At no point did I think we were going to lose because I didn’t think they had much.

“It’s gut-wrenching. You get up to the top of your Everest and you want to stay there and then you’re sliding back down. It’s a tough one to take.

“The last six years have been a whirlwind and at these tournaments we’ve got better and better and learned how to deal with it and the players have been fantastic. They buy in, work hard every day and I’m gutted for them.”

Russell’s preparations for Finland were hampered after a delayed finish to the top-flight Elite League, due to games being called off through Covid.

Pete Russell gets his message across to his players on the bench during the World Championships. Picture: Dean Woolley/IHUK.Pete Russell gets his message across to his players on the bench during the World Championships. Picture: Dean Woolley/IHUK.
Pete Russell gets his message across to his players on the bench during the World Championships. Picture: Dean Woolley/IHUK.
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Russell’s team still had four warm-up games in England before arriving in Finland three days before their opening game against the Czech Republic.

He hopes to have longer preparation time next year.

“It’s been tough this tournament because the preparation was tough,” said Russell, on the eve of his team’s defeat to Austria. “We trained three times before we came over because the Elite League went on longer.

“I don’t think that is perfect and that disappoints me a little bit, that we can’t work together a bit more to make sure our players get more time together.

“I’m not trying to be controversial – there has to be some pattern, some kind of better relationship there.”