In 1994 Mike O’Connor was a key member of the defence for the Ice Hockey World Championships playing for Great Britain. Now, just 25 years later his son Ben O’Connor is set to follow in his dad’s footsteps and play against the likes of Canada, USA and Finland as freetips.com reports.
When the 1994 team took to the ice, they performed what was considered the impossible and brought the country to the top level of the world championship clashing sticks with countries like Russia and Canada with O’Connor as one of their strongest defenders. Now it will be O’Connor junior taking to the ice, with the Championships being hosted in Kosice, Slovakia beginning on Saturday. There is a close resemblance to the play of both men, as Ben is also a staunch defender and played with the Sheffield Steelers. Currently, he is thought to be the best player in Britain which is just what was said about his dad back in the day.
Speaking to Sportsmail, alongside his dad, Ben talked about the opportunity. ‘It’s a dream come true. Growing up you want to play against the superstars of the world and to be on the same ice as NHL players is going to be very special. I think most of us in the GB team won’t make the NHL, so our only chance of competing with the best comes in the Olympics or World Championships. After we won promotion last year, we were so excited and this year’s tournament has been a long time coming, but it’s just around the corner now. It’s a massive deal for our sport, and we want to be playing against the biggest and the best. We’re facing the USA, Canada and Finland in our group, so we will have our work cut out but we’re going to embrace it and try to show the world GB can play hockey and we deserve to be there. Realistically it’s going to be very difficult to stay up, but we’re targeting France and Denmark as games where it’s possible for us to win. If we beat Canada, I don’t think we’ll be ready for the next game because we’ll be flying so high!’
It was something of an unexpected promotion, it was not looking likely that team GB would make it but a sudden goal just 15 seconds before the buzzer went saw them draw with Hungary in their final match, giving them the points they needed for the promotion. When they set out the plan was to ensure that they held onto their place in the World Championship second tier, but they exceeded their expectations, and the team could not be happier. In the opening match they will be taking on Germany and then play the teams of Canada, and the United States, both of these teams are littered with NHL players and are a force to be reckoned with. O’Connor senior will be taking his place rinkside to cheer on his son.