Day 9 - Practice day
After having a nice chill in the mountains and some of the boys being able to sample some luxurious food it was back to horse meat and chicken sausages - Sarge's favourite!
Boys were back in practice. No casualties this time. We were missing pucks for around twenty minutes of the practice with Diar nowhere to be seen. Croyley actually did go down and joined me on the injured list. However, his was probably from the chicken sausages. He had the case of the shits. Then after consuming a truckload of pills he had the inverse effect and had trouble the other end.
Practice was sharp (probably cause I wasn't on the ice) and the boys were energised after the day off. Koreans were shaking in their boots - or just their heads at Si's old school Jofa bucket he was sporting to coach in. It was then I am sure I noticed the Korean's first line winger piss himself when they saw Foxy tearing down with his 1996 Jofa rendition. The laughter was muted quickly when they saw his new scar complete with stitches and when one Slovak player told them that 'he opens guys up'. True story.
Day 10 - Game Day (Korea)
This was big one. For myself it was huge. First opportunity that I have been given to assume the role of the Equipment Manager and Defence door opener. Personally I would score my performance a solid 6. Rosey's feedback was that I was a little slow coming back to the locker to dry the gloves but was impressed with my visor cleaning. I should of been doing this job since day 1... But, being injured I just wanted to make sure I could do something to help the boys and if that meant filling water and being the 'bitch' so be it.
On the ice we got off to a flyer. Taking a 1-0 period in the first and guys jumping in front of shots. #11 Liam Charnock just doing what he does best - Scoring goals and smiling. True story he actually smiled.
Playing largely in our defensive zone Longer had an outstanding game. Keeping us in the game for large parts. For someone who hasn't really seen Longer before these games or what he's like I can tell you he's one of the good ones. Big goalie, professional and he has a bright future for sure. We need more British goalies and as long as he works hard he'll be there.
2nd period was much more of the same but the boys started to dominate. Daniel Rose come on down. Little forehand backhand action top of the circles through a screen 1-1 and top cheese. Shit celly but he's not used to scoring.
Korea came back into the game during the 3rd with a scrappy goal to make the game 2-1. But Vanya Antanov saw an open net as they pulled the goalie late in the game. Vanny loves a point and his eyes lit up. Some say that was the fastest he's skated and shot before. That's also the biggest celly ever and Doug is calling him into the office when he's home.
GOOSEBUMPS FROM THE BENCH!
3-1 against Korea and the boys have done it! We have finished in the top ten. No more long walks from the locker room. Finishing higher than Korea and China. Bradbury calls that job done.
Welcome to Kazakhstan was of course the win song.
Day 11 - USA Game Day
No rest for the wicked and the boys were back in action the next day. My 2nd day as Equipment Manager and Door Opener. Water was in the fridge overnight refrigerated - which Moggy didn't like.
12:30pm game meant we had a little bit longer in bed. We knew the US were a tough team but as this was for 9/10th place this game could go either way.
We started the game on a good note but as tired legs set in the US took control with defensive lapses. Longer was replaced by Hovey who got to see his first action of the tournament which was nice to see. He's been a great guy off the ice and around the team and to see him able to play some minutes was a big boost to see.
I even got a pic of my 2nd door opening night on the Almaty website.
After the game the boys all headed back to the athlete village and 'packed' before we went out for the final evening. The evening was an experience and all the boys loved it. Extremely civilised.
An early flight from Almaty - Instanbul - Birmingham was not welcomed with some upset bowels being moved.
Boys thanks for the memories and good luck with wherever life takes you next. I'm feel lucky to spend probably my last moments in hockey with you guys - those I will cherish forever. I hope to see you all at some point and you are invited to my wedding party - whenever in the future it is. No absinthe.
Now, this is just a note to BUCS, BUIHA, Bradbury, Miller, Andy, James (Physio, Doc and the whole athlete delegation.
From myself and the rest of the Hockey team we want to thank you. The boys had the greatest time and I can safely say that from all the team we are forever in debt to you. You have allowed us the opportunity to experience things that not many people will ever experience. You have provided first class assistance and assured a smooth running with everything. As a nation competing with little to no budget we are impressed with your hard work and professionalism that you have displayed. From myself and all the boys thanks so much.
To the medical team and staff. James and Doc - although the games didn't end the way I wanted them to, thanks. You guys have helped me out a ton and hope to cross paths in the future.
DIAR! The boys loved you mate! We wish you all the best for everything in the future and you have to come to the UK soon. From everyone you are an absolute hero!