Great Britain handed another tough IIHF World Championship assignment in Belarus

Head coach Pete Russell is urging Great Britain’s players to battle for their spot at next year’s World Championships after the groups were revealed yesterday.
GB head coach, Pete Russell. Picture: Dean Woolley.GB head coach, Pete Russell. Picture: Dean Woolley.
GB head coach, Pete Russell. Picture: Dean Woolley.

GB, who stayed up in the top tier a year ago in the most dramatic of circumstances when beating France 4-3 in overtime, will play their games in Minsk, Belarus.

As well going up against the hosts in Group A, they will face the Czech Republic, Denmark, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland at the 15,086-seat Minsk Arena, which will also host two quarter-final games, both semi-finals and the medal games.

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GB players celebrate last year's overtime win against France. Picture: Dean Woolley.GB players celebrate last year's overtime win against France. Picture: Dean Woolley.
GB players celebrate last year's overtime win against France. Picture: Dean Woolley.
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Joint-hosts Latvia will play in front of their own fans in Riga in Group B and are joined by Canada, Finland, Germany, Italy, Kazakhstan, Norway and the USA.

The IIHF said the tournament will run from May 21 to June 6 2021, subject to Congress approval.

“Last year, the big buzz was the prospect of playing against Canada, USA, Finland but they have flipped the coin and we now have the buzz of playing Russia, Czech, Sweden, Switzerland,” said Russell. “It’s stuff that dreams are made of for any hockey player or fan.

“In two tournaments we will competed against nearly even nation in Pool A. If I was a player I’d be doing anything I can to be the best I can be to get on that plane.

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“Any team you play in Pool A is quality and in the next tournament we will see a very different challenge but a great experience awaits everyone.”

This year’s World Championships in Switzerland were cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.