By Lewis Rudd –
RIO GRINELL-PARKE says being called up to the Great Britain squad for a World Championship tournament later this year is a massive achievement.
The Bracknell Bees shooter, 17, is among 13 forwards named by coach Martin Grubb for the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) competition, which runs between April 1 and 8.
Grinell-Parke, who returned to The Hive last summer from London Raiders of the National Ice Hockey League (NIHL), has made the 23-man squad having impressed at a recent training camp up in Scotland.
He was told of his inclusion by email last Friday, meaning he is set to make his competitive debut for his country.
“It is a pretty exciting experience for me,” he told The Wokingham Paper.
“I have played for England in the past, but that was a long time ago so getting a place in the GB squad is a massive achievement for me.
“This is a big stepping stone for me. It is my first full season proper in the EPIHL as well. There are a lot of forwards going, so it is going to be quite a challenge, but I’m chuffed.”
The teenager, a sixth-form student studying PE, biology and psychology, revealed how the
call-up lifted his spirits as he was unwell at the time.
Playing in Gangneung, a venue for next year’s Winter Olympics, GB will join Croatia, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania and the hosts for this Division 2A battle.
And Grinell-Parke spoke confidently about the country’s chances, adding: “Offensively we are very strong and will get goals and defensively we should be OK.
“We have got a really strong squad and if we put our minds to it then we have the potential to come back with a medal.”
A former Stinger and Drone, the forward, who has also iced with the Romford Hornets and Guildford Firestars, returned to Bracknell with a career which is bubbling away just nicely.
Although currently part of a Bees side struggling for wins and points at present, Grinell-Parke believes he is in good hands under the tutorship of player-coach Lukas Smital and those senior players within the ranks.
“I feel as though I have done everything right and taken the right steps, starting as a junior in the B Leagues, moving to the A Leagues and then the NIHL,” the Camden-based player explained.
“My career is going in the right direction and there is nothing wrong in having to start from the bottom and working hard. I think I am heading in a good direction, but need to keep playing hard and remain level headed.
“[Lukas] is always pushing me and telling me to keep challenging myself and work to my strengths, which is my strength and speed, and you feel you can always ask him a question – or to anyone else in the team.
“Being the youngest in the team there is a lot of experienced players you can learn from, and they will always tell me what to do, and sometimes what to keep up doing.”
Grinell-Parke and Bees will be looking to arrest a run of 10 straight defeats this weekend, but can expect a stern examination given they host leaders Telford Tigers on Saturday (6pm) before travelling to fourth-placed Hull Pirates the following day (5.30pm).
And they are likely to be without new signing and defenceman Rupert Quinley, who suffered a shoulder injury during Sunday’s 5-2 loss against Basingstoke Bison.
“We are going through a rough patch and this is a hard part of the season,” added the youngster.
“We cannot fault anyone for effort and everyone is doing as much as they can and we are playing hard, being competitive and sticking to our work ethic. We are keeping positive and there is no pointing of fingers.
“Smits [Smital] has told us there is 20 games left and if we do the best we can do and keep working hard we can do it and we can get results.”
Bees are currently ninth in the standings, eight points off a play-off spot.