SOLIHULL Vixens star and Great Britain captain Saffron Allen has announced her retirement from international ice hockey.
The 27-year-old, who won 52 caps for her country, made her GB debut on April 4 in 2011 against Denmark at the IIHF Women’s World Championship Division II in Caen.
She scored her first goal in only her fourth game, netting against hosts France and was also on target in GB’s final game of that tournament against Italy.
In total, Allen represented GB at nine World Championship tournaments and three Olympic Qualifiers, scoring 18 goals and contributing 20 assists for 38 points in her 12 years as an international player.
Her career is a remarkable one after she suffered a spinal injury at the Olympic Qualifying tournament in China in November 2012.
Early indications were that she may not walk again but she returned to the ice within 14 months to continue her outstanding career.
Allen won five silver medals and three bronzes before leading GB to gold and promotion at last year’s IIHF Women’s World Championship Division II Group A in Spain.
She also won 15 caps for Great Britain at under-18 level, scoring 11 goals and contributing 11 assists for 22 points.
Allen said: “It has been the biggest honour to wear the GB logo for so long. I treasure every moment I had within the set-up and I thank everyone who contributed.
“Last year, I captained my team to a gold medal at a World Championship and gained my 50th senior cap.
“Little did I know at the time but this became the right time to close the national chapter of my life, hang up my GB skates and begin my next chapter in life.
“For those who have been a part of this chapter, I cannot thank you enough. They have been the best years I could have wished for and it’s the people it was with that made it what it was.”
Head Coach, Mike Clancy, said: “Saffron will leave a deep hole in the GB Programme.
“She was someone who cared, someone who was passionate about what she did and she created some great memories for the national team.
“They are big shoes to fill and I would like to wish Saffron all the best in the future.”
Ice Hockey UK Chair, Clifton Wrottesley, said: “Saffron will be huge loss to the GB Programme and particularly the women’s team.
“Saffron will have a place in the history and leaves the team as a champion and a leader of champions.
“Her leadership, work ethic and desire set a huge example to the younger generation. She showed them what it has taken to achieve so much and in doing so, having to overcome such challenging odds.”