Welshman Matthew Myers says Great Britain’s gold medal success in Budapest is the ‘best moment of my career.’
GB won their group and earned promotion to the top tier of World Championship ice hockey.
Their 2-2 tie against hosts Hungary in regulation time clinched gold and Britain added an extra point by winning the penalty shootout.
Cardiff-born forward Myers, one of three Welsh players in the team along with Ben Davies and Jonathan Phillips, said: “It is surreal and I just can’t quite believe it. We have achieved something very, very special.
“I have never known anything like it and this is the best moment in my career.
“Last year’s gold medal in Belfast to get GB to this level was special, but to do this is just something I can’t describe.”
Robert Farmer scored a dramatic goal to tie the game up with 15.8 seconds left in the 60 minutes and then admitted: “It was a rubbish goal, but I just don’t care.
“I was looking to shoot for a rebound, a lucky bounce, and we won a gold medal. That’s great!
“We kept battling. There is a lot of team spirit in this group, we believe in ourselves and that came through in the end.”
GB will play in Slovakia next year against some of the best ice hockey nations in the World and Farmer said: “We might never get the chance to do this again. What an opportunity for us to go and showcase ourselves.”
Head coach Peter Russell, who was in charge of youth development at Cardiff Devils earlier in his career, will now lead his team on their biggest adventure of all a year from now.
GB will be competing among the 16 best nations in the world at the 2019 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in Bratislava and Kosice, Slovakia.
“That’s wild. It’s been a crazy journey,” says Russell. “Some guys gave been on this team 15 years. When you work hard things can happen. It’s a great experience and everybody is looking forward to.”
Goaltenders Ben Bowns and Thomas Murdy plus Myers and Mark Richardson were the Devils players in the GB team, while their kit manager is Welshman Jason ‘Taffy’ Ellery.
Devils player Josh Batch missed out on selection despite playing his part as the Welsh club powered to the Elite League title and won the play-offs championship in the season just ended.
Batch, from Essex, switched between playing defence and forward during the season and that may have cost him his place in the GB squad.
He will be pushing hard to play at his best for Devils next season and regain his place in Russell’s plans.
Sheffield Steelers Ben O’Connor was voted best defenceman of the tournament and he summed up the commitment of the British players. He suffered several injuries, including being hit hard in the face by a puck and a stick, but scarcely missed a shift over the week.
“We just had an unbelievable time,” said O’Connor. “We never say die.
“We’re like a family, we pulled together. 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?”
GB were last in the top flight during the 1990s and they made it there after earning back-to-back promotions just as they have this time.
Goalie Bowns was magnificent over the week, playing in all five matches and he says: “To win it with all these guys is unbelievable. Literally indescribable.
“I can’t wait for next year! It’s gonna be busy but it’s gonna be fun,” who saved 31 shots in the match against Hungary.
GB and Italy are the teams promoted and Russell faces a busy time in charge of Elite League Braehead Clan before the World Championships come around again.
Canadian-born Brendan Brooks plays for GB and Braehead.
“This is just so amazing and words can not describe how I am feeling right now,” he said.
”We are all great friends on and off the ice – and I think that shows with how well we have done this week.
“We never know when we are beaten and this was the best comeback of my career.
“To be going to the top level of the World Championship and play teams like Canada and Sweden is just out of this world.”
GB will prepare for their 2019 challenge in the same way as they did this time because there isn’t time to slot in extra training camps.
“We can’t do that with the Elite League,” said Russell. “We have the seven-day camp and two games.
“The players skated for five days before we came to Budapest and played two games against Lithuania.
“I don’t see that changing because some Elite League guys play 90 games and after the play-off final they come straight to camp. We get used to that. It’s fast track.”
Best Goalkeeper: Adam Vay, Hungary
Best Defenceman: Ben O’Connor, Great Britain
Best Forward: Jan Urbas, Slovenia
All-Star Team (selected by the media)
GK: Adam Vay, Hungary
DE: Ben O’Connor, Great Britain
DE: Sabahudin Kovacevic, Slovenia
FW: Brett Perlini, Great Britain
FW: Roman Starchenko, Kazakhstan
FW: Balazs Sebok, Hungary
Most Valuable Player (selected by the media) Brett Perlini, Great Britain