Cardiff Devils forward Blair Riley took a break from the Elite League to represent Canada in the Spengler Cup over the holiday season.
Riley, 34, was a late call-up to play in the oldest invitational ice hockey tournament in the world, which was played in Davos, Switzerland between Christmas and New Year.
The former Belfast Giants man, who joined the Devils in the summer, made two appearances during the tournament, where Canada were heavy favourites in the ice hockey betting, which included teams from Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Switzerland.
Canada won all four of their games in the tournament, culminating in a 4-0 final victory over Czech side Ocelari Trinec, to claim their 16th title.
Riley told Icetime: “Found out after last home game on 22nd, so not really had an opportunity to look forward to it or get nervous for it.
“I had a call from Shane Done, the assistant GM of the Canadian team, who said they had a couple of injuries and they were looking for some players to come in for cover, he didn’t promise me anything, but said he’d get me in and maybe get a game or two.
“It was a big shock, a very exciting call to take. Had to quickly run in and speak to Lordo (Andrew Lord), and he was just excited as I was. Teams don’t have to release their players, they’re under no obligation to do that, so for him to do that and speak to Todd (Kelman) and get his blessing, it meant the world to me.
“It’s a short tournament and injuries have always happened in the past, so they always like to have extra guys. There was a bad flu bug, so multiple guys in our team had it, and that was a big reason I ended up playing the semi-final.
“I played a pretty big shift in the two games I played in, so that was pretty special as it felt I contributed.
“It was a great honour to represent Canada as a hockey player. We take a lot of pride in not only being Canadian hockey players, but being Canadian in general. We tried to put in a good performance and represent the country as best we can.
“The games were shown on TSN back home and I had a lot family and friends following along and of course the Devils fans, and fans right across the Elite League who sent out congratulations and well wishes, so really thankful for that.”
Canada beat Ocelari Trinic 4-1 in their first group game, in front of 6,000 fans at the Vaillant Arena, securing progress with a 5-1 win over hosts HC Davos.
Riley played in the 6-0 semi-final win over Finnish side TPS Turku.
He returns to the Devils for their double-header weekend starting at Manchester on Saturday, before Dundee Stars head to the Welsh capital on Sunday.