Great Britain mean’s ice hockey have been promoted to the World Championship Division 1 Group A after winning every game in the Group B competition in Belfast this week.

GB will replace Ukraine, and compete against Kazakhstan, Poland, Hungary and the two teams relegated from the World Championships next season. This means that if GB place in the top two of next year’s Division 1 Group A competition, they will play in the following years World Championships, a major achievement and opportunity to play against the best in the world.

Last year Great Britain were one point behind the eventual Group B winners Ukraine so to take that final step this year is a great achievement and demonstrates the consistent improvement in GB hockey over the last couple of years.

In GB’s 5 games, they scored an incredible 35 goals, conceding just 5, winning all 5 games, and none of them was even close. Great Britain kicked off the tournament with a 4-2 win over Croatia, scoring 3 goals in the final period in a game that set the tone for their tournament.

Game 2 saw GB facing Estonia. The hosts were up within 5 minutes and double the advantage in the period. They conceded their third goal of the tournament in the third before a 3 goal final period ended the conversation and saw them come away, 5-1 winner. Goals from Evan Mossey had GB and Nottingham Panthers fans wishing he would return, as the former Elite League star pushes on towards his NHL dream.

GB faced Lithuania in game 3 and was 4-1 up after twenty minutes of hockey. Lithuania tightened things up for the rest of the game, but both teams would add one more goal in the third, for a 5-2 final score. These were the last goals they would concede all tournament.

The fourth game for GB was a cake walk, a 14-0 win over the Netherlands, who were relegated with a -32 goal difference. GB led by 3 goals after 20 minutes, 8 after 40 and 14 at the final buzzer. A Colin Shields hat-trick was the highlight of a goal-filled game, in which 9 different players scored for GB. Shield moved one goal past British Ice Hockey legend Tony Hand to become the leading all-time GB scorer with 41 goals.

The Final game for GB was against Japan in a winner takes all final game, both sides equal on points. In a cagey opening period, it was Robert Dowd who got the go-ahead goal for GB, with two minutes remaining in the period. A second half Brendan Brooks powerplay goal and a Matthew Myers double later and Great Britain were Group B champions and heading to next year’s Group A tournament, their first promotion to that level since 1993.

Ice Hockey in the United Kingdom has been growing at an incredible rate. With the national top division, the Elite Ice Hockey League (EIHL) expanding to 12 teams for the 2017-18 season and international glory for club (Nottingham Panthers won the Continental Cup this season) and country, it is an exciting time to follow British ice hockey. Combining a family friendly atmosphere with exciting and competitive action, expect to see Ice Hockey hit the mainstream in sooner rather than later.

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