Sheffield Steelers boss awarded GB honour

Doug Christiansen on the GB bench
Doug Christiansen on the GB bench

Sheffield Steelers can savour a spot of close-season one-upmanship over arch rivals Nottingham Panthers today.

Steelers’ new coach Doug Christiansen pipped Panthers’ Corey Neilson to the part-time post as GB head coach.

The Star suggested on June 22 that the pair would be rivals for the post. It was a prestigious opportunity for them and their clubs -Steelers will now hope the kudos attached to having the national coach on their bench will make future recruitment more attractive.

Christiansen didn’t have to persuade Steelers’ owner Tony Smith about the merits of the twin role - Smith, infact, was one of the three Ice Hockey UK chiefs on the appointment board. Neilson is likely to get the consolation prize of being assistant GB coach.

Christiansen, an American, said: “Being named GB coach is the biggest honour of my career. I am absolutely thrilled. I’d like to thank (outgoing coach)Tony Hand for his efforts the last two seasons. I learned a lot from him and it was a privilege to work for him. Hockey in Britain is at a crossroads. It is my vision to help push GB forward building a world-class programme.

“The IHUK board are excited about pushing the game forward and aspiring to be like Switzerland or Norway.

“Both nations have created long-term strategic plans with tangible goals and realistic aspirations. Both have made an investment in the youth, while pushing the national team to new heights.

“Our goals will be high. Our intent is to set a path that can be followed from the age of 16 to the top. We know there will be bumps in the road and, at times, resistance but our ambition is to learn from Norway, Korea, Japan and Switzerland, so that we can improve our game and as a result see more kids playing the best game in the world.”

GB may make an announcement tomorrow about Christiansen’s assistant.