Teenage defenceman Jay King hopes the “highlight of my career so far” can help him inspire Edinburgh Capitals to crucial Elite League points this weekend.
King was part of the Great Britain Under-20 team which won a bronze medal at the Division 1B World Championships held in the French Alps ski resort of Megève last week.
In a tightly-contested group, cut from six to five teams after Japan pulled out on the eve of the tournament, GB – the lowest seeded team in the competition – won three of their four games to collect a total of eight points, losing out only to eventual winners France – who won promotion to Division 1A – and silver medallists Poland on goal difference.
A thrilled King said: “It was unreal. Totally different to what I’m used to. Where we were up in the mountains at high altitude and playing was a lot more tiring. We really noticed it in the first couple of training sessions and the opening game, but it got easier as the week went on.
“There was a lot of pressure on us to stay up and not get relegated but, when Japan pulled out of the tournament and were relegated automatically, I guess that took some pressure off. But we still felt expectation. We certainly didn’t want to finish bottom even if we knew we were safe. But beating the top seeds Slovenia in the opening game gave us a real confidence boost.”
King, who along with Duncan Speirs of Solway Sharks was one of only two Scottish-based players in the 22-man squad, continued: “I felt the team came together really quickly. We had two warm-up games in Nottiingham and Milton Keynes but other teams had been together for two or three months and had entered tournaments together before so for us to gel as a team as quick as we did was really good.”
King was disappointed to miss out on selection last season after playing big minutes at Elite League level with Edinburgh under then player-coach Richard Hartmann. So he was delighted to have a major career ambition realised this time around.
He added; “The head coach Tom Watkins contacted me asking if I was available for trials in Nottingham and Sheffield. There were a few other trials I attended and eventually made the final squad. It was a major goal of mine to represent GB and it was the first time I’d managed it. It was so good to be part of it. Playing for GB has been the highlight of my career.
“In years to come, if I keep working hard in training and keep improving in games with the Capitals my next goal would be to play for the senior side.”
Capitals play twice this weekend and King, who returned from France in time to play in last Sunday’s 3-1 loss at Murrayfield to Belfast Giants, believes concentration is the key if Caps are to snap a five-game losing streak when they travel over the recently re-opened Forth Road Bridge to face Fife Flyers tonight (face-off 6.30pm) before hosting Dundee Stars on Sunday (6.00pm).
He said: “We had a good start to the season and now we’re frustrated because we’re losing games. Every guy in our team has a real passion and desire to win – that’s all they want. But we’re suffering from mental lapses as the moment and other teams are capitalising on that. It’s important we keep our concentration for the full 60 minutes.
“We were looking at adding an extra two hours on our journey tonight, so the bridge being re-opened early has made a huge difference for us and the fans as well. I don’t think too many would have been going over to watch us if the bridge had still been shut, so hopefully a lot more will make the journey now.”