INGOLSTADT – Last year Great Britain surprised everyone by earning promotion to the Top Division of the IIHF InLine Hockey World Championship. Now the British hope for more following their upset win against Finland.
Same as last year, goalkeeper James Tanner is one of the key players behind the rather astonishing performance of the Brits. He has saved 93.26 per cent of the shots in his two starts against Finland (2-1 win) and the Czech Republic (5-4 OT loss), second overall behind only Sweden’s Sebastian Idoff (93.94%).
The upset against Finland came only one day after Great Britain had been demolished in a 13-3 loss to Sweden.
“Sometimes things just work out. We had such a tough game against Sweden the day before. It really introduced us to A-pool hockey,” the 29-year-old Englishman said.
“We had totally changed our fortune. We were a different team. We are more defensive-minded rather than attacking, but we still managed to score a couple of goals.”
After the first three games at this level for the players, they plan to relax and recover for a few moments before facing last year’s bronze medal winner Canada in tomorrow’s quarter-final clash.
“We want this quarter-final so badly. We don’t mind who we play. We will miss the U.S. now, that’s maybe good for us. We have to play anybody to win,” Tanner said. “We’re unrealistic, we think we have a very good chance.”
Tanner is playing in his ninth InLine Hockey World Championship. The London native also played some amateur ice hockey in the last couple of years, most recently with the Invicta Dynamos of the English National Ice Hockey League, a minor league in Great Britain
“I play inline hockey and a little bit of ice hockey, but my priority is this,” Tanner said before he added with a smile: “If a good European team signs me up for ice hockey I’ll be interested.”
Same as ice hockey, inline hockey is not one of the major sports in the United Kingdom. And also in inline hockey, the scenery is fractured. But the team tries to make the best out of its situation and has gradually improved in the last few years.
“There are lots of different organisations. But we have skilled players on Team GB with some good ice hockey players and inline hockey players as well,” Tanner said.
Coming into the tournament, the main goal was survival, Tanner admitted.
“But some of us are dreamers. We can’t help but dream. But maybe dreaming gets us past the quarter-finals,” Tanner said.
And is the netminder one of these dreamers?
“Absolutely!” he replied.
The Brits will play the first quarter-final game on Tuesday, 14:00 at Saturn Arena. Sweden vs. Slovenia (16:00), USA vs. Finland (18:00) and Czech Republic vs. Germany (20:00) are the other pairings.
All four games will be streamed live on IIHF.com while the quarter-final games of the lower tier, Division I, can be followed on our live ticker.