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Giants stars recognised with Great Britain inclusion


Bright spark: Craig Peacock has been in top form for the Giants

Bright spark: Craig Peacock has been in top form for the Giants

Bright spark: Craig Peacock has been in top form for the Giants

Six members of the Elite League-leading Belfast Giants squad have been named in the initial Great Britain panel for their World Championship competition in April.

Goaltender Stephen Murphy, defensive duo David and Kevin Phillips and forwards Mark Garside, Colin Shields and Craig Peacock have all been selected by former Giants coach Doug Christiansen, who will take charge of the national team for the first time after succeeding Tony Hand last year.

The Giants have the joint biggest contingent in the squad, with the Nottingham Panthers and Sheffield Steelers also providing six players for the tournament, which takes place in Lithuania during Easter week (April 20-26).

Great Britain will also take on Croatia, Netherlands, Poland and Romania and Christiansen's target is gaining promotion from Division 1B to the top tier of the world game.

"We wanted to get a nice blend. There are a number of players knocking on the door and also a number of top-quality players in our league," he said.

"We want to get to Lithuania and hit the ground running. Our expectation and goal is to finish top of the group, but you look at the teams in our group – Netherlands have done well and Poland have been excellent.

"Poland have beaten Italy, Hungary and Ukraine. They are a team who views this as the same opportunity that we do."

Murphy tops the goalie stats in the Elite League this season and his shut-out against the Hull Stingrays last Friday night was his third of the campaign.

Shields and Peacock have both scored 17 goals this season, in 45 and 37 games respectively.

The provisional squad of 35 will be trimmed to 27 players ahead of the pre-Championship training camp.

Four more players will be cut after two friendly matches against the Netherlands on Saturday April 12 in Sheffield and Coventry the following day, with a 23-man squad travelling to Lithuania.

GREAT BRITAIN SQUAD: Goaltenders: Ben Bowns (Hull Stingrays), Stevie Lyle (Swindon Wildcats), Stephen Murphy (Belfast Giants), Mike Will (Braehead Clan). Defencemen: Josh Batch (Cardiff Devils), James Griffin (Coventry Blaze), Steve Lee (Nottingham Panthers), Sam McCluskey (Dundee Stars), Danny Meyers (Sheffield Steelers), Ben O'Connor (Arlan Kokshetau), David Phillips (Belfast Giants), Kevin Phillips (Belfast Giants), Mark Richardson (Cardiff Devils), Paul Swindlehurst (Dundee Stars), Mark Thomas (Sheffield Steelers), Jonathan Weaver (Nottingham Panthers). Forwards: Jonathan Boxill (Nottingham Panthers), David Clarke (Nottingham Panthers), Ben Davies (Cardiff Devils), Matty Davies (Hull Stingrays), Robert Dowd (Sheffield Steelers), Robert Farmer (Nottingham Panthers), Mark Garside (Belfast Giants), Matt Haywood (Braehead Clan), Jason Hewitt (Sheffield Steelers), Phil Hill (Sheffield Steelers), Robert Lachowicz (Nottingham Panthers), Matthew Myers (Cardiff Devils), Andrew Nell (Swindon Wildcats), Craig Peacock (Belfast Giants), Jonathan Phillips (Sheffield Steelers), Colin Shields (Belfast Giants), Ashley Tait (Coventry Blaze), Matt Towe (Braehead Clan), Ross Venus (Coventry Blaze).

Belfast Telegraph