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The EIHA’s Showcase Draft Tournament has revealed their team names and current and former GB internationals have been used for inspiration.
The four Under 12s-Under 15s teams will be named after retiring Great Britain and Sheffield Steelers captain Jonathan Phillips, Cardiff Devils duo Ben Bowns and Mark Richardson, and the first English-trained player ever drafted in the NHL, Liam Kirk, who is currently playing in the top league in Finland.
The Under 16s and Under 18s teams will be named after two of the greatest players to play for GB, former Nottingham Panther David Clarke and former Newcastle Viper David Longstaff.
Showcase lead Ben Pitchley admits it was a tough call to pick which players to honour, saying: “The moment we decided to move away from regional teams we knew we needed to find some special players and these six are amongst the greatest we have ever produced.
“Jonathan Phillips is the ultimate leader, unselfish, hardworking, and always holds himself to the highest standards. Ben Bowns has had an incredible career and he has taken netminding in the UK to a new level.
“Mark Richardson is another wonderful pro, who as a defenceman exhibits the skills and the mental fortitude we want our players to show.
“As for Liam Kirk, he was the last of those names through the programme and he continues to inspire the kids now as he chases his dreams.”
“The two Davids were obvious choices, David has been a consummate goal scorer at every level in his career and David Longstaff was the best player of his generation.”
The six players were only too happy to lend their names to Showcase.
Mark Richardson said: “It is an honour to be named with those players and if that inspires the next generation of players then that is fantastic.”
Liam Kirk added: “It is a privilege to have a team named after me. It sounds like a really exciting format, and I know how much I would have enjoyed the chance to play with the best players of my age group from other regions, as well as against my mates.”
The Under 12-Under 15 players will be drafted on ability into four teams of 22, featuring 20 players and 2 goalies. They will play against each other in a round-robin tournament on Coronation weekend.
The Under 16s and Under 18s will play a two-game series as Team Longstaff and Team Clarke, again equally drafted on ability.
This celebration of junior ice hockey will be played at Ice Sheffield 6-8th May 2023, with spectators invited to come and watch and enjoy the talent on show.
Showcase 2023 is now on the lookout for sponsors to help support the weekend, including title sponsors and shirt sponsorship.
Any money raised from sponsorship will be invested into the weekend to keep costs as low as possible.
Ice hockey is a very expensive sport, and every effort is being made for the weekend to maintain the highest standards whilst being run on an affordable budget.