Great Britain qualifies for 2019 hockey worlds in dramatic fashion

Photo via @TeamGBicehockey/Twitter

Great Britain’s men’s hockey team will be in Slovakia for the 2019 IIHF World Championship.

The Queen’s finest finished first in the 2018 Division I standings, punching their ticket to the top group for next year, in what will be their first appearance in 25 years.

The Brits entered Saturday’s game with nine points — tied with Kazakhstan and Italy for most among the six teams competing — but trailing in head-to-head goal differential. The top two teams qualify for promotion.

It all came down to the event’s final contest, which saw Great Britain take on host Hungary, which would have jumped into a top-two spot (alongside Kazakhstan) with a regulation win.

Hungary got out to a 2-0 lead, before Robert Dowd, a forward with the Sheffield Steelers of the United Kingdom’s Elite Ice Hockey League, scored with nine minutes left in the game to give the Brits some life.

And then:

That’s Great Britain’s Robert Farmer scoring the equalizer from a sharp angle with just 15.8 seconds left in regulation, earning the Brits at least a point and clinching the top spot in the group.

“It was rubbish but I just don’t care,” Farmer said after the game. “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.”

Ben O’Connor wound up scoring the winner in a meaningless shootout, as the Union Jack will be flown alongside the Canadian and Russian flags next spring in Slovakia.

It will be the first time since 1994 that the Brits will send a team into the elite group. It finished dead last among the 12 teams then, losing its final group game 10-0 to Austria.

While no one would confuse Great Britain with a hockey power, it is one of just six countries to have won a gold medal in ice hockey at the Olympics, having done so in 1936.

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