Oli Endicott flying high for Leeds Knights as he targets golden farewell with GB Under-20s
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Not just because he can do it in front of family and friends given the competition is staged on relatively near ‘home ice’ - but also because it would be the perfect way to end his time with the GB junior programme.
2022 brought bronze with the Under-18s and, later that year, another third place when he stepped up with the Under-20s.
His second outing at the higher age group saw head coach Martin Grubb’s team edged out for gold in Lithuania in December last year by the narrowest of margins. They had finished level on points with Croatia, but their rivals took gold and the promotion that comes with it by virtue of having beaten GB earlier in the week.
All this serves to make Endicott determined to make amends when he steps out at the Dumfries Ice Bowl for the first game of the tournament on December 11.
“I really want to push for a gold this year,” said Endicott, after having his place in the GB squad confirmed on Monday, along with Knights’ team-mate Fin Bradon.
“I know the team do as well, they are a good group of lads and we’re all hungry for gold. It is one we haven’t won yet and I think we’ve got a good enough team to do it.
“It would top it all off for me, with it being my last year at 20s. I’ve had a couple of bronzes and a silver in the past, but getting a gold medal is the big one for me.
“And to do that on home ice - hopefully my family can get up there to watch - that would be fantastic.”
Even though Endicott was probably one of the first names on Grubb’s list when picking his roster for the tournament - given his quality and experience - his cause will have been helped, no doubt, by his impressive start to his first full season with Leeds Knights.
Look down at the list of leading points-scorers for the NIHL National leaders this season and there are few surprises - Kieran Brown, Matt Haywood, Mac Howlett, along with import forwards Matt Barron and Josh Adkins.
Coming in next is Endicott who, in eight games, has four goals and five assists to his name, the 19-year-old currently finding himself on the same line as Barron and the prolific Brown.
“It’s been good so far,” he added. “It obviously helps who you are playing with. I’m playing with Matty and Kieran at the moment and they are exceptional players, but I feel like I’ve earned my spot there.
“Hopefully I can keep moving forward - ultimately, it’s about the team and as long as I help the team get the win, that’s all I care about really.”
Knights’ boss Ryan Aldridge knows Endicott probably better than any other coach, having first coached him down at the Okanagan Hockey Academy down in Swindon. He expects him to play a big role for GB Under-20s throughout the tournament.
“Oli is having an exceptional year because he is playing Oli’s game,” said Aldrudge. “When Oli stops playing his natural game, that is when things will drop off.
“He’s a skilled, young hockey player and he is getting his points right now through sheer hard work, plain and simple, and that is what he has got to keep doing.
“He just brings something different for us than anybody else on our team. He makes space for other players, he creates energy for the team and he’s prepared to stand up for the team,
“He’s an old-fashioned player in a way and we’re lucky to have him.
“And the GB 20s call-up - while no surprise to me - is just reward for how he has been playing.
“They know the way he plays, they know what he can bring to the table, he brings energy and I believe he’ll be a big player in that tournament.”