International Ice Hockey Federation

Great Britain & Italy up!

Great Britain & Italy up!

Farmer scores clinching goal with 15.8 seconds left

Published 29.04.2018 02:40 GMT+2 | Author Martin Merk
Great Britain & Italy up!
The Great Britain players celebrate with the trophy after becoming the surprise winner of the 2018 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A and earning promotion to the top level. Photo: Laszlo Mudra
Great Britain got the point it needed when Robert Farmer tied the game against Hungary at two with 15.8 seconds left in regulation time.

“We are going up! We are going up!” the British fans chanted on the tribune. 15.8 seconds were missing in regulation time that changed everything. For a long time it looked like host Hungary would win the game in regulation time and get promoted together with Kazakhstan in a four-team tie at nine points. But the last-minute bounce made Great Britain tournament winner and Italy will be promoted too as second-placed team.

“It’s an unbelievable feeling. I was looking to shoot for a rebound, a lucky bounce, and we won a gold medal, so it’s great! We kept battling, we have a lot of team spirit, we believe in ourselves as a group of people and that came through in the end,” Farmer said and is looking forward to next year in Slovakia. “We might never get the chance to do this again. What an opportunity for us to go and showcase ourselves!”

After the 2-2 tie the rest of the game wouldn’t change anything anymore but Great Britain continued its party on the ice by eventually beating Hungary 3-2 in shootout with Ben O’Connor scoring the winning goal in the fifth round. Great Britain tried to get into the game for most of the time and outshot Hungary 43-33. Team GB won four out of five games but this was actually the only game the team had more shots on goal than its opponent.

“We just had an unbelievable tournament. We never say die. We had a great first period, absorbed the pressure and took it back to them. Anything can happen when you dream and that’s what was shown in this tournament,” said O’Connor, who was named Best Defenceman of the tournament. “We’re like a family, we pulled together, we’re all best friends. We worked together as a team and believed and it is possible. Back-to-back gold medals, when’s the last time that has ever been done?”

It was the fitting ending of a tournament that was full of drama, surprises and tight standings from the first to the last day, to the last game and the last minute. Five teams were still in run for promotion before the final day and four teams could still have made it before the last game’s result.

For Great Britain it will be a return to the top division after 24 years. And like in the ‘90s they made it from the third to the top tier with two consecutive promotions in two years.

“To win it with all these guys is unbelievable. It’s just literally indescribable. I can’t wait for next year! It’s gonna be busy but it’s gonna be fun!” said goalie Ben Bowns, who had another busy night with 31 saves.

While Great Britain and Italy will be promoted to the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Slovakia, Kazakhstan had to settle for bronze before Hungary, Slovenia and Poland, which will be relegated. Earlier that day Italy won its game against Slovenia also in the last seconds of regulation time to get itself into this position.

In front of a loud and passionate sell-out crowd of 7,870 spectators Hungary had a perfect start on home ice at the Laszlo Papp Sportarena in Budapest also thanks to a tripping call against British goaltender Bowns. At 3:31 the Hungarian players covered him with shots and had several rebounds until Christopher Bodo eventually succeeded and beat Bowns for the 1-0 goal. The British had their chances too but didn’t manage to create enough danger to tie the game during the rest of the period.

In a scoreless second period Daniel Koger had the probably best chance for Hungary when Bowns deflected a shot with his glove. A bit later on the other side Adam Vay had to be sharp when Mark Richardson shot after a great pass from Mike Hammond.

A lucky bounce gave Hungary the 2-0 lead at 1:53 of the third period. Janos Hari brought the puck high to the crease where it hit Csanad Erdely’s shoulder and from there went in. The goal was confirmed after a video review.

The British still continued to work hard and when they were looking for a rebound, Robert Down eventually broke the spell and beat Adam Vay for the 2-1 goal with nine minutes left for GB to tie.

The British were pushing but the best chance was Hungary’s when Hari missed out on a penalty shot with four minutes left.

The Hungarians seemed to win it and to go up with Kazakhstan. But then, with 15.8 seconds left a nightmare broke out for the hosts. The British occupied their zone, had their time-out and their goalie pulled for a sixth skater. Farmer brought the puck from a sharp angle from the left side to the goal and surprised Vay. The puck slid down from his glove and slid between his legs across the goal line. It was 2-2. Now suddenly Great Britain would be tournament winner and take Italy as second-place team to the top division.

It was not over yet. Now Hungary took its time-out. With eight seconds left and after a glove block from Bowns the fans started to cheer after a rebound but the puck just came onto the net from outside. Great Britain won and the players and the “Barmy Army”, their loud fans on the tribune, celebrated loudly.

It was the start of the British party while the Hungarian fans chanted farewell to their visibly broken players with the traditional singing of the national anthem as they do even in defeat.

“We achieved the dream. I’m so happy for the players and the country. I don’t think we really know what has happened to us. [In the last period] we changed the approach a little bit, tried to push them back, threw pucks to the net. We had luck, 15 seconds to go and Farmer puts it between his feet. Dreams happen,” said head coach Peter Russell, the Scotsman who took over the national team three years ago.

The British went from one lucky streak to another during the tournament and never gave up even if a glimpse of hopelessness was in the air after two scoreless periods against Hungary. The tournament victory is especially impressive since the team doesn’t have many camps or tournament participations during the season due to the long club season. Something Russell doubts will change.

“We can’t do that with the Elite League. We have the seven-day camp and two games. We skated five days before we came here and played two games against Lithuania. I don’t see that changing because some Elite League guys play 90 games and after the playoff final they come straight to camp. We get used to. It’s fast track. But I don’t really know what’s going to happen next year,” Russell.

Something that will go on is having his team competing among the 16 best nations in the world at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship not far from here in Bratislava and Kosice, Slovakia.

“That’s wild! It’s a crazy journey. Some guys on this team have been 15 years. When you work hard things can happen. It’s a great experience and everybody is looking forward to.”

 

Back to Overview

Highlights

Interview with Robert Farmer

Interview with Ben Bowns

Interview with Ben O'Connor

Interview with Peter Russell