By Tom Hurley
Thunder head coach Lewis Clifford was shining with pride after the news that two of his young players have been named as GB U20 reserves for the upcoming Division Two World Championships.
Rio Grinell-Parke, 18, and Josh Crane, 19, are on standby to attend pre-tournament camp and the World Championships itself after GB U20 head coach Slava Koulikov announced his roster Friday.
“I know both the guys would want to be in the squad at this stage, but it’s a great honour to be named in the national team, even as a reserve,” Clifford said. “I’m sure they will both be ready to join the team should the need arise. Both of the lads turn up every night ready to work hard in practice and games and they deserve recognition for this.”
The duo are two of seven players on Clifford’s roster aged 23 and under that are playing key roles in the team’s first season in the second tier of British ice hockey.
“As a club it’s important to us that our young players are recognised for their contributions,” Clifford said. “Both Rio and Josh play big parts in this team and will go on to great things in their career if they keep their feet on the ground and their work rate at the level it is at now.”
Koulikov’s squad is due to meet on Dec. 5 ahead of the World Championships that take place in Dumfries, Scotland. The tournament itself runs until Dec. 16, meaning the young Thunder duo would likely be unavailable for the NIHL South 1 games with Basingstoke Bison and Streatham IHC.
“Should there be any unfortunate injuries to any of the squad — while we would undoubtedly miss either of the guys over the course of the championships — we would be delighted to see them travel to Dumfries and pull on the GB jersey,” Clifford said.
Grinell-Parke and Crane will next wear the red and black of Thunder against Cardiff Fire on Sunday, Nov. 26. Face off at Planet Ice MK is set for 6:30 p.m., with tickets priced at £9 Adults, £5 Concessions/MK Lightning season ticket holders, and £1 Under 16s.