Feature · Ice Hockey

Are Dual Nationals The Answer For GB Ice Hockey?

Ice Hockey remains one of England’s hidden treasures in the sporting world and is just waiting for the right opportunity to be unearthed by the masses.

Finishing in a silver medal spot at the two previous World Championships, Team GB are still looking for the final piece to a winning puzzle.

International Ice Hockey Federation president René Fasel was asked about the game progressing within the UK. “You’re not easy people” he told BBC five live sport.

Maybe this signifies the issue with Ice Hockey in the UK, those atop of the tree aren’t yet willing to sacrifice something for the bigger reward.

These comments followed Team GB’s loss to Italy in Cortina at the Olympic Pre-Qualifiers, signalling nearly 70 years since their last qualification.

team-gb-2015-high-2
Courtesy of Colin Wilson – Team GB roster

A 22-man roster contained athletes from Wales, Scotland, England and Ireland and only one skater was classified as a Dual Nation, Colin Shields of Scotland.

In the Elite Ice Hockey League, teams are only permitted to employ 14 non British-trained players permitting they match necessary credentials.

Elite League Chairman Tony Smith believes that the lack of top-level British players means the league cannot be complete across all ten teams. As a result the International side suffer when the next generation of talent aren’t surmounting those already in the game.

By raising the number of dual national skaters, the general feeling is that the league quality itself will increase but also the young talent coming through.

Taking on an influx of Canadian and American born British Citizens may match the success of Italy at an International stage but it comes at a cost.

Italy iced a total of five dual nationals which may not seem an eye opening amount, but having five good Italian Canadians on the ice at once may be the difference to just one superstar.

Peter Russell, Head Coach for the International GB side, has found himself searching for the next plan of attack in a time where foundation hockey is struggling.

As funding is so clearly sparse through the grass roots of the game it may be time to turn to dual nationals to boost the standard of the current league.

A better league, more interest from investors, more money into grass roots therefore boosting the standard of born and bred GB players. Dual national numbers will only begin to increase and for Team Great Britain this isn’t the worst idea.

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