Britain back among ice hockey elite after 24-year exile
Ice Hockey

Britain back among ice hockey elite after 24-year exile

29 April 2018 / 01:20

In his own words it was a truly "rubbish" goal but for Robert Farmer, his is the goal that took the Great Britain men's ice hockey team back among hockey's elite.

Twenty-four years was how long Pete Russell’s side had to wait to reach the top tier of the World Championship but with one scruffy shot from a few yards out, that clock could be reset to zero.

By the time Farmer’s puck had hit the net, time was very much of the essence. The British team had trailed hosts Hungary 2-0 with ten minutes to go, the crucial equaliser coming with just 15 seconds left on the clock.

Only a draw was required to secure both gold and the promotion – now the likes of Canada, Russia and China as Britain retakes its place at ice hockey’s top table.

“It was rubbish but I just don’t care,” said Farmer of his hero moment.

“I cannot put into words what I am feeling right now. It is so hard to sum it up.

“We are now going to play the best teams in the world next year and that is so amazing.

“We never doubted ourselves and we dug deep to get the most breath-taking victory of my career.”

As if the occasion needed crowning any further, Russell and his side went on to prevail in the subsequent shootout – with top spot secure for a team that was sixth favourite for this tournament alone.

But as their previous, victorious outing against Italy had proved, this was not a unit there to make up the numbers.

The belief was there behind the scenes but when it came to the ice a whole new gusto, a whole new unique bravado was needed if they were to achieve something special.

Even that would only take them so far, a second-match 6-1 loss to Kazakhstan proving humbling, a brought-back-down-to-Earth moment upon which tournaments like this hinge.  

Yet with each game that followed the formbook went further and further out of the window, culminating in a moment where even a two-goal deficit to hosts and favourites Hungary – with ten minutes remaining, no less – was not even a mountain unclimbable.

First came Robert Dowd’s goal to make it 2-1 before Farmer took centre stage, keeping his head at the moment it mattered most of all to secure the vital 2-2 draw.

“We dared to dream and we did it. I just cannot believe it,” said head coach Russell.

“This team is very special and what we have pulled off is absolutely unbelievable.

“We did not give up and showed true British spirit to pull that one out of the bag.

“I am so proud of every single one of them and we will now play the best teams in the world next year.

“Our team work rate was immense every single night and they dug need to provide GB with one of our greatest-ever moments.”

Photo credit: Dean Woolley

Sportsbeat 2018