Fans will recognise most of the Great Britain team when they take to the ice in the World Championships, but unless you closely follow the national team at various age levels, one face in particular may not be so familiar.
Welshman Joey Lewis, who plays in DEL2 with ESV Kaufbeuren, is in Slovakia with the rest of Pete Russell’s squad, getting ready for the tournament, when GB will take on Germany in their opening game on Saturday.
And it’s this game that the 26-year-old, who hails from Newport in South Wales, is looking forward to the most.
“I moved to Germany nearly 10 years and it came about because of an old team-mate of mine, Andrew Hirst, who now plays for Sheffield Steeldogs,” Lewis said. “He had a tryout in Germany and there was an extra spot and we both made the team.
“Sadly for him, he had to return to the UK, but I stuck it out and I’ve never looked back. I have to mention him as it wouldn’t have been possible without him.
“I’ve climbed up into the DEL2 and personally, I’ve adapted well into German life. I’ve learned the language and got my citizenship too, so it’s helped to get me where I am in hockey.
“But that first game against Germany is probably the one I’m looking forward to the most. I’m proud to be part of both nations and I hope to get the call to be in the line-up. It will be an amazing feeling to share the ice with my other country.
“I’ve played with and against quite a few of the German team and they bring a lot to their team. I don’t think it’s a far away reach for us.”
Lewis’ inclusion was one greeted by surprise, but he’s certainly earned his place as he makes a name for himself with Kaufbeuren, a team situated in the south of Germany, in Bavaria.
After leaving Swindon Cougars in 2009, he joined his pal Hirst on the plane to try out with Iserlohner’s Under 18 side. Lewis took to the new country and new league like a duck to water and never looked back.
He’s established himself in Germany’s second tier, having just completed his fourth season at that very competitive level and although he’s presented GB at Under 18 and Under 20 level, post season club commitments prevented him from any prior involvement with the senior team.
That is until now as he gets ready to be involved in Great Britain’s crack at the top flight as he revealed what kind of player he is and what fans can expect of him.
He added: “Being new to the team, I just want to show what kind of player I am. I’m a pest for opponents and can be dangerous when I get those chances. I never stop working and my speed is one of my biggest things.
“I’m a bit of an unknown I suppose, but I’ve made a life for myself out in Germany in my career and I’ve kept in touch with GB and with Pete, plus because these championships come usually in the middle of April, I’ve never had the chance to be part of it.
“The timing has always been against me, but this year, it works out perfectly and it doesn’t get any better to be part of these championships.
“Unfortunately I wasn’t part of what the team has done in the last couple of years, but the boys deserve a huge amount of respect for getting the nation into the top level. It’s a once in a lifetime thing and to get to be part of that, it’s a massive opportunity.
“It’s a waiting game for us now until the first game. It’s all about training, but I’m anxious to get going and its going to be a great challenge, but it’s what we dream of and play for. My family will be there too, as well as friends from Germany so I’m all booked out for tickets.