​Olympics the goal for GB ice hockey aces Liam Kirk and Ben Bowns

Liam Kirk. Pic by Dean WoolleyLiam Kirk. Pic by Dean Woolley
Liam Kirk. Pic by Dean Woolley
​ROTHERHAM’S best-ever ice hockey players are aiming to propel Great Britain to the Winter Olympics.

Maltby's Liam Kirk and Swinton's Ben Bowns have both been picked for GB’s squad to contest next month’s Olympic qualifiers in Cardiff.

Winger Kirk, (24) who plays for Czech team HC Litvínov, and Bowns, (33) the Cardiff Devils' netminder, will be absolutely key if GB are to triumph against Romania, China and Serbia at the Vindico Arena between February 8-11.

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Kirk is smashing it for his club this term, averaging more than a point a game.

Ben Bowns. Pic by James AssinderBen Bowns. Pic by James Assinder
Ben Bowns. Pic by James Assinder

While Bowns can boast a steady 92.15 per cent save ratio in the EIHL regular season.

They will need to transfer that domestic form to help progress Pete Russell's squad into the to Final Qualifying session in August – the last stage before the Winter Olympics in Milano-Cortina, Italy in February 2026.

Kirk, a former Sheffield Steelers' forward, said: “I always love playing for GB; it’s the biggest honour to represent your country at national level.

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"We always enjoy being together. It’s a great environment to be around in, the coaches are great, the players and the staff are all great and, for me, it’s provided some of my best moments in hockey.

“The qualifiers will be exciting. It’s a big step for us and if we can get past that round to get to the final one then it’s obviously a big step closer to what would be an amazing opportunity to play at an Olympics.

“It’s a long journey and a long road – and it starts in Cardiff in February.”

Coach Russell added: "This is the start of another big year for us and it’s great to be hosting a tournament on home ice in the UK again.”