Pete Russell getting his just rewards as GB coach says Leeds Knights boss Dave Whistle

LEEDS KNIGHTS’ boss Dave Whistle says Great Britain head coach Pete Russell is reaping the rewards of the hard work he has put into honing his craft over many years.

Monday, 14th June 2021, 11:55 am
Updated Monday, 14th June 2021, 12:18 pm
GB head coach Pete Russell, worked with Dave Whistle at Cardiff Devils back in 2004-06. Picture: Dean Woolley
GB head coach Pete Russell, worked with Dave Whistle at Cardiff Devils back in 2004-06. Picture: Dean Woolley

Russell, 46, was unable to physically attend the recent World Championships in Riga due to family commitments back home in the UK.

But he remained involved to a significant degree throughout the tournament, liaising closely via video and phone calls and messages with his coaching assistants Adam Keefe and Corey Neilson - who ran the bench in Latvia - as well as holding regular video meetings with players.

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Dave Whistle, pictured during his second spell at Cardiff Devils in 2014. Picture courtesy of Richard Murray.

GB returned home with four points and their reputation enhanced after following up an overtime defeat to Denmark with a 4-3 win over Belarus, the team’s first regulation win in the top tier since 1962.

It was just the latest in a long line of successful campaigns overseen by Russell and his team, with two successive gold medal promotions leading in 2018 to their return to ‘Pool A’ for the first time in 25 years.

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Russell’s long coaching journey to his current position began back in 1999 when coaching juniors back in his native Scotland.

But his career took a big step forward when he worked under Whistle when the Canadian became Cardiff Devils’ head coach part-way through the 2003-04 Elite League season.

Russell was overseeing junior development but was called up to help on the bench for Devils’ games by Whistle, who says he saw his coaching potential at an early stage.

“Pete was already doing a great job with the kids when I got there,” said Whistle. “He always had a very good visual level in terms of seeing players and their tendencies and I think that has probably helped out with GB such a lot.

“He’s very much been a student of the game and he’s been reaping the benefits in recent years. He’s put in his time, he’s worked with kids, in the lower leagues, hockey academies, various senior teams.

“He has had to put in a lot of work to get what he’s got out of the game. He put in his time to earn what he’s got now and that’s great and I’m really glad he’s getting what he deserves.”