Betteridge and Okanagan trio in GB Under-20s squad for World Championships
SWINDON Wildcats forward Ollie Betteridge and three members of the Link Centre-based Okanagan Academy UK have been selected for Great Britain Under-18s ahead of their forthcoming World Under-18 Championship campaign (Division 2A) in Scotland.
Betteridge's call-up means he will miss Swindon's final two games of the EPL regular season against Basingstoke and Slough as well as both legs of the play-off quarter-finals, should Swindon get there.
Okanagan forwards Glenn Billing, Luc Johnson and Swindon-born Michael Stratford are included in the 22-man squad, while defenceman Ben Nethersell is on the reserves’ list.
The three Okanagan players in the main squad, all 16, are currently playing for Swindon Cougars with both Stratford and Billing having seen action for Swindon Wildcats’ EPL side.
The tournament takes place at Dumfries Ice Bowl from March 24-30 as GB host Croatia, Korea, Lithuania, Netherlands and Romania.
GB head coach Martin Grubb said: "This is an excellent team and one I am very excited about.
"The competition for places was very strong and I think we have assembled a very competitive line-up.
"There are 13 extra names on the long list and they can come in should anyone have to drop out for any reason.
"The players not in the final team are still very much in my thoughts and I know they can do a job if required.
"I am excited about the tournament and it will be very special as it takes place at my home venue of the Solway Sharks.
"We have a great group of guys and they know what is required of them.
"The boys will meet again in February for a training camp and then again in March ahead of the tournament.
"We have a couple of challenge matches planned. I am determined to give this side the best possible preparation for such an important tournament."
Wildcats head coach Ryan Aldridge admitted Betteridge would be a miss but said he was delighted for the youngster.
"I'm absolutely thrilled for Ollie, he fully deserves his place in the team," said Aldridge.
"He's continued to develop his game here in Swindon and to play for your country is an opportunity too great to miss.
"So although we'll be sad to lose him at such an important time of the season, we wish him well and it'll be an experience not to be missed."
Like Aldridge, Okanagan head coach Pete Russell was pleased that the talent of his young players had been recognised.
"I am delighted for Luc, Michael and Glenn," said Russell.
"They have all developed their games immensely on and off the ice at Okanagan Hockey Academy and this is their reward for all the hard work and commitment they have shown each day during training.
"This is a huge thing for these three 16-year-old boys and a massive honour.
"It is also a great achievement for Ben to be named part of the long list. He has three years at this age group and is certainly a future GB player in the making."
GREAT BRITAIN UNDER-18S SQUAD
Netminders - Denis Bell (Milton Keynes), Jordan Hedley (Milton Keynes).
Defencemen - Callum Buglass (Cardiff), Jordan Crowe (Ontario Hockey Academy), Josh Grieveson (Northwood School), Simon Hobbis (Wightlink), Adam Jones (Lower Austria Stars), Cameron McGiffin (Slough), Callum Read (Whitley Bay), Harvey Stead (Bracknell).
Forwards - Ivan Antonov (Bracknell), Will Attwell (Lake Shore Collegiate), Ollie Betteridge (Swindon), Glenn Billing - (Okanagan UK), Lee Bonner (Hull), Sam Duggan (Bracknell), Alex Forbes (Ontario Hockey Academy), Lewis Hook (Peterborough), Luc Johnson (Okanagan UK), Ben Richards (Whitley Bay), Michael Stratford (Okanagan UK), Alex Whyte (Peterborough).
Netminders: Jordan Boyle (Whitley Bay), Bradley Stone (Northwood School).
Defencemen: Bradley Jenion (Nottingham), Nick Oliver (Hill Academy), Ben Nethersell (Okanagan UK), Cameron Pound (Canadian Ice Hockey Academy).
Forwards: Owen Bradshaw (Cardiff), Bailey Chittock (Chelmsford), Ben Edmonds (Dundee), Owen Griffiths (Cardiff), Matthew Headland (Northwood School), Macaulay Heywood (Telford), Danny Ingoldsby (Basingstoke).