Ice Hockey: Great to see Brits back among world's best
PUBLISHED: 14:00 11 May 2019
As a keen follower of ice hockey for over 30 years, I'm excited to see Great Britain back among the World Championships elite.
I was two-thirds of the way through my journalism degree at Nottingham Trent University when GB last played the big boys, in Bolzano, Italy in 1994.
Romford Raiders player-coach Terry Kurtenbach was one of 15 dual nationals in the 23-man squad and said: "We met up the night of the Wembley Finals, flew out there, practised in the morning, the first time we had all skated together, then played the Russians in the evening."
it's amazing to think that was the extent of their preparation for what was the biggest match in GB's recent history at that point.
Kurtenbach scored GB's first goal, when they were already 3-0 down to the Russians on the way to a 12-3 loss, and also picked up an assist on a goal from Paddy Scott.
But GB then suffered further defeats against Germany (4-0), Italy (10-2), Canada (8-2) and Austria (10-0) to finish bottom of their pool.
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And speaking of their match against Canada, who included NHL stars Luc Robitaille, Rob Blake, Darryl Sydor, Mike Ricci, Rob Braind-Amaour and Paul Kariya, Kurtenbach added: "I guess we were pumped up a bit, playing against some of our idols. We knew we weren't gonna win but it was a good experience."
GB met Norway in the relegation play-off and fought back from two goals down to level it up after 40 minutes.
But they conceded two shorthanded goals in the final period in a 5-2 defeat which sent them back down to Pool B.
Kurtenbach said: "It was a tough tournament and we weren't prepared for that standard of hockey.
"I was happy to get in the squad and it was nice to score a goal and an assist. It's something I'll never forget, but I would've much preferred us to stay in Pool A."
A quarter of a century later, GB will start their campaign against Germany on Saturday (3.15pm), before facing Canada on Sunday (7.15pm).
They also take on Denmark May 14), USA (May 15), Finland (May 17), Slovakia (May 18) and France (May 20) and, having seen the likes of goalie Ben Bowns, Robert Farmer and Ben Davies take their first steps in international hockey with England under-13s in Quebec in 2004, I will try to watch as much of the action as I can on Freesports.
Here's hoping the Boys of 2019 survive unlike the Class of 1994!