While the Stanley Cup playoffs continued on Saturday, and the results of the NHL Draft Lottery were announced, hockey history was also being made at the international level.
Team Great Britain, who faced off against Hungary, won 3-2 in a shootout, securing themselves a promotion to the elite level of the World Championships for the first time since 1994.
Relive the goals and celebrations as Great Britain win the gold medal and promotion to the top level of the World Championship pic.twitter.com/zPHhjbmjFM
— Team GB Ice Hockey (@TeamGBicehockey) April 29, 2018
Heading into their match with Hungary, a draw was all that Team GB needed to ensure the promotion, and a gold medal. With their 3-2 win, they guaranteed their place to play against the likes of USA, Canada, Sweden, and Russia in 2019.
Hungary went ahead 2-0 in the third period — which, as we all know, is the most dangerous lead in hockey. Team GB tied it up with 15 seconds left in the game, with a goal from Robert Farmer.
“It was rubbish but I just don’t care,” Farmer said about his game tying goal. “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,” he added. “We never doubted ourselves and we dug deep to get the most breath-taking victory of my career.”
Not only did Team GB achieve the feat for the first time in 24 years, they are also the only team to win back-to-back gold medals in Division 1.
Keeping an eye on Team GB’s historic success is also important heading into the 2018 NHL Draft. Liam Kirk, who plays for the Sheffield Steelers of the United Kingdom’s Elite Ice Hockey League, and was part of the winning Team GB squad, has also been invited to the NHL Scouting Combine.
Liam Kirk picks the pocket and scores shorthanded. Big third-period goal from Great Britain’s captain. pic.twitter.com/i6vYWbuyIm
— Alex Nunn (@aj_ranger) April 7, 2018
The talented 18-year-old forward is eligible for the 2018 Draft, and is hoping to make a place for himself in hockey history as the first player born and trained in the U.K. to ever make the NHL. According to The Hockey News, the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers and Detroit Red Wings have met with Kirk already.
Back in January 2018, according to Steelers coach Paul Thompson, the Washington Capitals also sent a scout over to watch Kirk play in back-to-back games.
The Caps have had scouts over to watch Kirk a couple of times this season too 🤞🏻
— Hana Imiolczyk (@Hana15x) April 29, 2018
While previously a relative unknown, Kirk has started to make a name for himself, winning gold in 2018 with both Team GB at the Division IIA World Under-18 Championship, and now at the Division 1A senior level.
Over the course of 52 games during the Steelers Elite Ice Hockey League season, Kirk tallied nine goals and seven assists. With the Under-18s, Kirk scored four goals and three assists, and over five games with the Under-20s, he scored seven goals and seven assists.
Though Kirk’s numbers, as first glance, might not seem overtly impressive, his development has come from a hockey community that has very limited funding and resources — and, at the junior level, is widely coached by the parents. Should he make the NHL level, Kirk could become something of a diamond in the rough.
Headline photo: @TeamGBicehockey
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