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Ice Hockey UK Media Release

Wednesday, 25th February 2009

Great Britain ice hockey Head Coach, Paul Thompson has today confirmed that Manchester Phoenix Head Coach, Tony Hand is to step down as one of his Assistant Coaches for the forthcoming World Championships in Poland.

Hand won 59 caps for Great Britain between 1988 and his international retirement in 2002, during which time he scored 40 goals for the national team. Thompson lured him back onto the team when he took over the national team programme, playing five further games in the 2007 World Championships in Slovenia whilst also serving as one of Thompson’s Assistant Coaches.

After retiring from the ice again at the end of the 2007 tournament, Hand continued in an Assistant Coach role under Thompson for both the 2008 World Championships in Austria and the Olympic Qualification tournament in the same year.

“I’ve been delighted to have had Tony as part of my coaching team for the last couple of years,” said Thompson, “ but I understand why he has decided to step down, at least for a while. He is still playing for his club side and at the end of the season he’s going to need surgery on his knee which makes it nearly impossible for him to travel with the team in April.

“He’ll still be a good sounding board for me though and I very much still consider him to be a part of the GB set up. I’ll definitely be calling on his experience and knowledge when it comes to putting the team together for the World Championships in April.”

“I’ve really enjoyed my time with the Great Britain programme,” commented Hand. “And I’m certainly not closing the door at all. I do need to have the operation at the end of the season and the timing of the World Championships makes it impossible for me to do both. I really do wish Thommo and the rest of the boys every success when they go out to Poland in April.”

Thompson has also confirmed that he has asked Sheffield Steelers Head Coach, Dave Matsos to join the GB coaching staff to fill the void left by Hand’s absence. Thirty-five year old Matsos played 46 games for Team Canada before coming to the UK where he enjoyed successful spells as a player with Belfast, Bracknell and Cardiff.

After starting his coaching career as Assistant Coach of the Cardiff Devils in 2005, Matsos became Head Coach of the Sheffield Steelers in 2006 and has since led the team to the UK Elite League’s 2008 Play off title. He has also guided his team to the top of this season’s Elite League table.

“Dave has done a tremendous job with the Steelers and he has several of the GB players on his club roster. I’m looking forward to working with him in the lead up to the World Championships and to having him with us out in Poland. He’s very excited about joining the coaching staff and I know he is very proud to be part of the programme.”

Great Britain will travel to Poland on 9th April and open their World Championships against the Ukraine on Saturday 11th April.

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