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Team Great Britain At The World Championship

from Brian Pinelli of the New York Times,

The N.H.L.’s best teams may be competing for a cup named after an Englishman — Lord Stanley, a governor general of Canada who has been dead for over a century — but the ties between Britain and the sport’s highest levels usually end there.

Now, however, Britain’s national men’s ice hockey team is competing at the I.I.H.F. world championship for the first time in 25 years....

“No one knows anything about U.K. hockey, and the first couple of days here people were laughing at us,” defenseman Ben O’Connor said. “We go out and lose, 3-1, to Germany, and they’re not laughing at us anymore.

“Just because you’re from England doesn’t mean you have to play football, or soccer,” he added. “We can play hockey too.”...

Against an American team captained by the three-time Stanley Cup champion Patrick Kane on May 15, Britain held on valiantly for 60 minutes. The score was tied, 1-1, nearly halfway through the game, before the United States pulled away for a 6-3 win.

“To play like we did and be in that game was special,” said O’Connor, who regularly skates for the Sheffield Steelers, one of the Elite league’s most popular teams. “You catch yourself thinking, ‘Patrick Kane is coming down on me.’ It’s surreal.”

Forward Colin Shields, 39, a member of the Belfast Giants of the Elite league, recently announced his retirement and is playing his final tournament for the national team.

“To line up against some of the players on Team U.S.A. was definitely a moment I’ll never forget and one of the greatest games I’ve been a part of in my career,” Shields said.

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