After being relegated to Division II due to an ineligible player, Great Britain and their exciting squad finished the U20 World Championship Group A tournament in spectacular fashion. Taking them off of their homeland to the mysterious country of Estonia, Team GB went undefeated with their games in Tallinn. With gold medals wrapped around their necks, Great Britain is now back where they rightfully belong: Division I.
Scott Robson is an offensive defenseman which made him a no-brainer to add to Team GB. After splitting most of his hockey playing time between the EIHL’s Hull Stingrays and the EPIHL’s Peterborough Phantoms, Robson has picked up enough experience to consider this old hat. I had the chance to speak with him about his league experiences back in September. Here, we turn our eyes towards the international stage.
March Hockey: What’s the biggest difference from playing in the EIHL/EPIHL to international competition?
Scott Robson: Firstly we played on a bigger surface so the game was a lot more, east to west instead of the usual north/south style of hockey played over here in the UK. It was hard to adjust to the huge zones but was a lot of fun adapting. However every team we came up against was hungry to win and pushed us from the first minute to the last which rarely happens in the EIHL/EPIHL. Personally I think it was a challenge for us because of this; it made us play better and raise our game throughout the Tournament.
MH: You played against Korea and coming from a hockey geek like me, that country surprises me that they were in Division II. How were they to play against talent wise?
SR: We played Korea the second to last game and if we got a regulation or an overtime win we knew we would have got gold. Korea played a well drilled fast style of hockey who could hit us on the break as much as anyone. They had a few standout guys who showed more skill than others but none the less they all worked hard and pushed us all the way. They were bottom seeded going into the championships and they for sure proved the other teams wrong thinking they would just be a pushover team. They got silver in the end.
MH: What was going through your head when the game against Korea went to the shootout?
SR: The whole game was nerve-racking even though we had a game spare to clinch gold. The staff and the team wanted to get it the job done against Korea. There was a bit of pressure on myself and the boys but it was good pressure made us more switched on which made usmanage to force OT with Korea. Playing four on four in a world championships was a first experience for me. It was crazy; up and down hockey, odd man rushes and the lot. It was intense. Our goalie Adam Goss made some crucial saves for us and kept us in the game which is always a relief as a D-man knowing you got a goalie of that caliber like Gossy in the net. The shootout forced mixed emotions on everyone on the bench but with Cownie and Gossy pulling us through in the shootout, it was such an unbelievable feeling. I will never forget, it was incredible.
MH: And of course, what was it like not only representing your country but winning gold for them as well?
SR: It’s always a honour to be in contention to represent your country at any level and then to be selected to represent Great Britain in Estonia was unreal. To go unbeaten in all our games was out of this world. The unity we had together as one big group was superb and when it got tough we all stuck together and battled through it as one. The belief we had preparing in Helsinki, Finland was that everyone wanted to win gold and obviously that urged and pushed everyone on. I think our coaches Pete Russell, Paul Heavey and Greg Owen also did a great job in making me and the rest of the boys actually believe that we can win we can win gold. Singing the national anthem after every win at the world championships was awesome but to do it knowing we just won gold was an unbelievable feeling. We had such a great group of lads and I know they will never forget it. Our captain Matt Selby was put out of the tournament through injury after the first two games yet he put it aside and pumped up the boys all the same and still played a part in us winning the gold medal.
MH: Now that Team GB will move up, do you feel the competition will be a lot harder?
SR: They move up and are in a lot tougher group but even though half of this year’s team was top age, I still think we have enough young talent for the boys to battle through and compete in next year’s group. I’m sure Pete will select the right team to even force GB into winning a medal. Some of this year’s team will be on the roster next year so hopefully they carry that winning experience from our Gold Medal run in Tallinn.
MH: Who in your opinion was the biggest part of the team?
SR: I think personally everybody on the team knew their role and executed the roles 100%. Obviously we had players who exceeded expectations and everyone worked hard, committed themselves in the right way and was dedicated to get the job done. The coaches and the staff did a great job in making sure everything run smoothly. Also our equipment manager Craig Cooke did a fantastic job in keeping everyone happy and tidying our locker room and giving off a professional attitude to the players.
MH: Any words for the fans and supporters?
SR: The support we got was phenomenal before we even we set off for Helsinki to start our pre-tournament camp and then as we progressed further on the support just kept on growing. It was a great feeling knowing we all had friends and family watching and keeping track of our performance. I’d like to personally say thank you to all our supporters, families and friends for their support for us during the trip and even now when we’ve all separated and returned back to our club teams.