Great Britain’s men’s ice hockey team have sought to embed themselves in the local community in Michalovce as they prepare to embark on their first top division campaign at a World Championship since 1994.
The team spent a morning at a primary school in the Slovakian town and took part in an English lesson.
They also watched a gymnastics performance, while the schoolchildren were given the chance to receive a team photo signed by all the players.
The photo was a picture of the side lined up for the national anthem after clinching the gold medal and promotion at last year’s International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Championship Division I Group A event in Budapest.
With just 15 seconds left in the final game in Hungary’s capital, Robert Farmer’s tying goal secured the Britons the point they needed to complete a shock win in the tournament and book a return to the top flight for the first time in 25 years.
One year on, they are aiming to find a way to survive in Group A of the IIHF World Championship.
They will go up against Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, hosts Slovakia and the United States at Steel Arena in Košice.
Round-robin group stage action is due to run from May 10 to 21 with the top four teams from each of the two sections advancing to the quarter-finals and the bottom side suffering relegation.
Britain’s coach Peter Russell insists his team, ranked 22nd in the world, is under no illusions about the task ahead in Košice.
But he can point to encouraging results in warm-up play, including a 3-1 victory over a Dinamo Riga side boasting plenty of World Championship experience.
Britain failed to earn a single point in finishing last out of 12 teams at the 1994 World Championships in Italy.
In that campaign, they were competing in Group A for the first time since 1951.
The visit to Michalovce also saw the team meet the town’s mayor Viliam Záhorčák and the British ambassador to Slovakia, Andrew Garth.
There was then a special reception at Lake Zemplínska šírava.