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Romford old boys in GB reunion

PUBLISHED: 12:00 15 January 2016 | UPDATED: 14:49 15 January 2016

Former Romford junior Harry Gulliver in action for the Okanagan Hockey Academy (pic: Nicky Pearce)

Former Romford junior Harry Gulliver in action for the Okanagan Hockey Academy (pic: Nicky Pearce)

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Gulliver and James get under-18s call-up

SPT WK02-16 James & Gulliver GB18s webSPT WK02-16 James & Gulliver GB18s web

Former Romford juniors Harry Gulliver and Ethan James are set for a reunion after being named in the Great Britain under-18 squad.

Gulliver started to play at Romford at the age of six and represented the club at under-10, under-12 and under-14 level, while also representing the South East Conference and England under-13s in Quebec with James.

But when the old Romford Ice Rink in Rom Valley Way was closed, they both had to look for new clubs.

Mum Lynda explained: “We saw that Okanagan Hockey aAademy was opening a new ice hockey school in Swindon, which we showed an interest in.

“After seeing the set-up and impressed by the schedule of 50-plus games, including international games abroad and personal training, we decided this would be a fantastic opportunity for Harry.

“With the Romford junior club’s future hanging in the balance, Harry moved to Swindon and was billeted out to a local family. He was one of the first 13 kids that signed for the new under-16s team.

“We didn’t know what to expect results-wise, but knew no more late night training would help not only with his ice hockey, but with his education too. He trains very hard every morning on ice before school and off ice after school.”

Former Gaynes pupil Gulliver has played in Austria, France, Germany, Latvia and Switzerland with the OHA in recent years, helping them win the national title last year, and represented the South West Conference.

As well as being their captain, he was twice named an All Star at the annual tournament and is currently in his final year as an under-17 player.

Lynda added: “The first year was a tough transition as he was playing under-16s as a 12-year-old, but he did it and never looked back.

“Things seem to be going from strength to strength for him. To be selected to play for GB under-18s at the World Championship in April at only just 16 has got to be one of the highest honours he could have wished for, especially as it’s in the sport he loves.

“He has had to go through several selection processes, each of which was a nail biting wait for their decisions, the final one being in Dumfries, Scotland over the Christmas break. To receive the news he had been selected was fantastic.”

James also played for OHA after leaving Romford, but moved to Canada last year to play for Coldwater Falcons in Ontario, where he is coached by Sylvain Cloutier, who was drafted by the NHL’s Detroit Red Wings in 1992 and went on to play a handful of matches for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Cloutier spent the final years of his playing career in the UK’s Elite League, appearing for Coventry and Hull and Vanessa James said: “Ethan has experienced a much faster level of play and this has helped his game immensely.”

The GB squad will get together for a two-day camp next month, with another one planned for March before the tournament in April, where they will play against Croatia, Holland, Lithuania, Poland and hosts Romania.

“Harry is still working hard at OHA and he is still very driven,” added Lynda.

“He wants to play at the highest possible level he can and is training towards his goals. He’d like to thank everyone who has helped him get to where he is today.

“He has been lucky to have such great coaches and influences in his junior years that have pushed him towards his goals. All of his family are extremely proud of him and we will be right behind Harry and the rest of the team when they step on the ice.”

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