From the ice-rink at the Lammas Leisure Centre in Sutton to the World Championships for Team GB! That’s the amazing journey that has been completed by ice hockey starlet Lizzie Saunders.
For Lizzie, who plays for the Sutton Sting club, has been in Radenthein, Austria this week as a member of the British U18 women’s squad taking part in a World Championships, Division One qualifier.
“This is a really big deal, and Sutton Sting are immensely proud of the achievements of this young lady, who only reached the tender age of 14 on New Year’s Eve,” said club boss Gary Aspley.
“Lizzie is a big contributor to our U15s’ side and is becoming a great player. She deserves her moment of golden sunshine and Sutton Sting can bask in all her glory as she pulls on the GB shirt. She is a credit to her parents, Bob and Sharon, her team, her club and her country.”
Lizzie was one of the original super Sutton Sting ‘girl power’ forwards. She joined the club in late 2006, just a few months after it had been formed, and over the last ten years, she has become a major part of what Aspley describes as Sting’s “golden generation of younger players”.
This group also includes U15 teammates James Spencer, Lewis King, Morgan Glasby, Chloe Riley, Ben Millward and Ryan Aspley. Together, Aspley says, they have grown from “wobbly U8s” who were part of the infamous 49-0 defeat to Nottingham Pumas on September 1, 2007 to “some of the most feared players in the English Ice Hockey Association (EIHA) junior system”.
The U15s’ head coach, Gary Shaw, said: “In the past 12 months or so, Lizzie has developed an edge to her game. The Tilburg tournament in April last year was one of the main turning-points in her all-round game and, together with her long-standing team and line-mate, Chloe Riley, she began to demonstrate the skills and determination that many of us had been patiently waiting to see. I am delighted for Lizzie and feel sure she will do incredibly well for Team GB.”
Breaking into the British squad has proved to be a major incentive for all the youngsters at Sting and has set a new benchmark for them to aspire to. It also re-establishes the Lammas-based club as a producer of emerging talent.
“Her mum and dad must be brimming with pride after the countless hours spent at rinks and travelling in cars and buses to practice and games,” added Aspley. “How they must have felt as they wished their girl off to Austria for the trip of a lifetime!
“For the rest of us at Sutton Sting, we can all share that sense of pride and reflect on the small or large parts we have played in preparing Lizzie for the big stage that is the ice hockey world championships.”
Any youngsters, aged five to 15, who are keen to try ice hockey can pop along to the beginner sessions at the Lammas from 8 am on Saturdays.