The English Ice Hockey Association has turned to Britain's head coach Pete Russell to lead its coach and education programme ©EIHA

Britain’s men’s ice hockey head coach Pete Russell has pledged to change the culture and performance within the game in England after securing a new position with the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA).

Russell - considered the most successful ice hockey coach in British history - has been appointed to a lead role in the EIHA’s coach and education programme.

The new post has been created to help shift the EIHA towards an "athlete-centred development programme" by establishing a "best-in-class" education and coaching system, according to Ice Hockey UK.

"Our sport is suffering right now but we have seen such fantastic results in our national team and more recently with the news about Liam [Kirk]," said Russell.

"I want us to all come together and build on what we have.

"We need to get the best from what we have, both players and coaches. 

"We all need to collaborate and share our knowledge, so that we see major change in our players and their abilities.

"I believe I can make a difference and want to work in collaboration with anyone who wants to help bring the change in culture and performance.

"I am excited to be taking on this new role with the EIHA and working alongside Gary [Apsley] and the team of dedicated senior coaches. 

"I think it will be hard work to get things re-started but it’s also very exciting too."

Clifton Wrottesley, chair of Ice Hockey UK, believes Pete Russell will play a
Clifton Wrottesley, chair of Ice Hockey UK, believes Pete Russell will play a "crucial" role in bringing about change to the game in England ©Getty Images

Russell has won 11 medals as Britain coach at junior and full international level and was instrumental in leading the country to the elite level of world ice hockey.

"It is great to see the EIHA is putting in place someone with undeniable knowledge and experience, who can help bring about change in the grassroots, youth, junior and senior coaching for all ice hockey participants," said Clifton Wrottesley, chair of Ice Hockey UK.

"I am completely behind this crucial new role and look forward to seeing the coming together of programmes, not just within the EIHA, but also with Ice Hockey UK, providing a clearly identifiable link all the way through from grassroots to elite."

Last December, members of the EIHA rejected a proposal to dissolve the organisation and have a new governing body take responsibility for ice hockey in the United Kingdom as a whole.

The previous EIHA Board had expressed a belief that coming under a single new organisation was the best option for the current membership and for the future of ice hockey in England and the UK

Gary Apsley, the EIHA director responsible for coaching and education, believes Russell’s role as national coaching and game development executive will "unite the game and inspire all its participants at every level".

Russell will be tasked with promoting the sport and the development of ice hockey, creating a high-performance coaching system, establishing a network of coaches that will maximise performances and be responsible for implementing the coaching elements of the EIHA’s coach and player development strategic plan.

"The single biggest and immediate priority for the association is to re-engage with the volunteer coaches and educators within the association and re-establish the delivery of high-quality programmes that underpin and support the re-starting of our sport at all levels post the COVID-19 pandemic," said Apsley.

"This role is pivotal to the success of that restart and with Pete’s profile we hope that he will unite the game and inspire all its participants at every level.

"I am thrilled he is able to join us and I am delighted that Clifton Wrottesley helped clear the way for Pete to help us.

"Coming into the role that oversees EIHA coaching and education and as a former coach, I could see that we had two sections that were not joined-up.

"It was evident to the most senior coaches that we needed a new direction of travel and a plan that was going to deliver real improvements in our coaching which is what everyone wants to see.

"Any plan with such ambitions needs a strong leader with the battle scars of experience and achievement to demonstrate the capability to get the plan delivered.

"Pete Russell has no equal in British ice hockey and there is nobody more relevant to what we need than him."