Two Kirkcaldy youngsters have spoken of their pride and joy after winning gold medals with Great Britain’s under 18 ice hockey team.
Reece Cochrane and Calum Robertson were both part of the World Championship squad that secured promotion to Division I Group B following a dramatic final day in Tallinn, Estonia.
GB concluded their tournament with a 4-3 victory over Korea before nearest challengers Poland dropped a point against hosts Estonia, meaning Tony Hand’s side took the gold medal.
Cochrane, a 17-year-old defenceman, played in all six matches, scoring one goal.
“I can’t put into words how it felt,” he explained.
“It was really breathtaking just knowing you’d won gold and got promotion for your nation.
“Coming down to the last game made it really nerve-wracking, but it was an amazing journey.”
Robertson suffered a dislocated shoulder in the team’s second match, ruling him out of the remainder of the tournament, but he still played his part with two assists before cheering the team to victory.
“It’s got to be the best moment of my career so far,” he said. “There’s no better feeling than playing for your country and winning gold.
“The 18s team hasn’t won gold in almost 10 years, so to finally get that promotion is crazy, especially since it was so unexpected. We came in as fifth seeds and were just hoping for a medal, so to get gold was unbelievable.
“It was disappointing to get injured, but I just tried to stay positive and be part of the team and support them in their remaining games.
“They got the job finished without me so I’m proud of them for that.”
The team mates came through Kirkcaldy Ice Hockey Club’s junior development programme together, having both grown up within a stone’s throw of Fife Ice Arena.
Their careers took different paths last year as they made their first steps into the Elite League, with Robertson heading to Edinburgh Capitals, while Cochrane stuck with home-town club, Fife Flyers. Both made appearances in the EIHL last season with Robertson gaining more ice time than he anticipated due to financial problems in Edinburgh.
The future is now uncertain for both with Capitals losing their ice to Murrayfield Racers, leaving Robertson to weigh up his options, while Cochrane is eyeing up a potential move to a hockey school in America.
Robertson explained: “It’s been a great year for me so far, getting to play EIHL last season and improving so much because of that, and carrying that into international level, and performing well in two games before I got injured.
“But I’ll recover from that and come back next season full fit and ready to go again.
“I’m not quite sure yet what’s going on for me or where I’m going to play. I’ll just have to see whether the league accept the new team, and if they do, where I’ll play.”
For Cochrane, a return to Fife next season remains up in the air. A fundraising web page has been set up in an attempt to help him raise £21,000 towards the cost of accepting an invite to play for AAA Rocky Mountain Rough Riders in Colorado, USA, who are coached by Fife Flyers legend Doug Smail.
“We’re still trying to fit the pieces together and see what it comes to,” he said.
“It would be a good opportunity to help develop but we’ll see what happens.
“Being with the Flyers last season helped me a lot. I got quicker, stronger and faster, and my decision-making is a lot better as well.
“It’s been really good to be part of the EIHL team, sit on the bench and play games as well.
“The coaches were really happy with the way I’ve been progressing so if I do stay, hopefully my ice time will build up as long as I keep developing, working hard in training and doing my best.”
For both Reece and Calum , ice hockey is in the family.
Reece’s uncle is former GB youth and Fife defenceman Chad Reekie, while Caly’s father is former senior GB international and man of many clubs, Iain Robertson.
Caly explained: “My dad played for GB and Fife and spent lot of time coaching me up through the juniors so I’m getting to follow in his footsteps I suppose.
“Ever since I can remember he took me to the rink and put me on pair of skates. It was the right decision because I fell in love with it straight away and I could never imagine not playing.”
Reece added: “My uncle played when I was very young, so I was always in ice rink growing up, watching Flyers from a very young age, and was always on the ice after games.”