Golden promotion ensures overdue sweet summer for GB

GB's players and staff celebrate their gold medal and promotion to Division 1A in belfast. Picture: Dean Woolley.

GB's players and staff celebrate their gold medal and promotion to Division 1A in belfast. Picture: Dean Woolley.

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ROBERT DOWD said the pain of world championship final day heartache two years running for Great Britain ensured they would not to be denied for a third time – particularly on home ice.

Heading into Saturday night’s winner-takes-all Division 1B clash with Japan at Belfast’s SSE Arena, the hosts knew a win would ensure gold and, with it, promotion to the competition’s second tier.

Japan – ranked three places higher in the world rankings – had experienced the pain of relegation from Division 1A last year and were desperate to get back at the first attempt.

But, from the first puck drop, it was clear head coach Pete Russell and his players were determined a third opportunity would not pass them by after final day defeats forced them to settle for silver in Eindhoven in 2015 and again in Zagreb 12 months later.

“I have high points in my career, but winning the gold for my country might just take the biscuit,” said Dowd, who with eight points finished the tournament as joint second-top scorer.

“We are such a tight-knit group and that saw us through the week. We were so unlucky the last two years and that really hurt us. It really hurt – all summer it hurt.

“So to win it here, in Belfast, is going to make this summer so much sweeter.”

It was Dowd himself who struck the first blow, breaking the deadlock towards the end of a 5-on-3 powerplay at 17.42.

But it was the second period where the game was won, Dowd picking up an assist when his shot was tipped in by Brendan Brooks on the powerplay at 24.37.

Japan had a goal disallowed due to the officials ruling the net to be off its moorings before the puck crossed the line. Then, salt was rubbed into their wounds shortly after when Matthew Myers tipped in a Shields blast at 29.19.

GB and Sheffield Steelers' captain, Jon Phillips, is presented with the Division 1B trophy. Picture: Dean Woolley.

GB and Sheffield Steelers' captain, Jon Phillips, is presented with the Division 1B trophy. Picture: Dean Woolley.

GB were proving irresistible with their pace and energy and got their just rewards when a break by Mosey saw him slide a perfectly-weighted pass to an advancing Myers, who rifled past Yutaka Fujifuku at 37.55.

The shot count of 27-10 after two periods was another indicator of GB’s dominance and although Japan rallied in the third – goalie Ben Bowns was called upon to make two key saves – the result was never in doubt.

“To win the gold on home ice is magical,” said Rotherham-born netminder Bowns. “It is a moment that will live with us all for a long, long time.

“We played one of the best games of our careers out there and Japan could not cope with us.

We were so unlucky the last two years and that really hurt us. It really hurt – all summer it hurt.

GB and Sheffield Steelers’ forward, Robert Dowd

“After the disappointment of two silver medals, we were not going to let it happen a third time.”

GB and Sheffield Steelers' Robert Dowd celebrates the gold medal in Belfast. Picture: Dean Woolley.

GB and Sheffield Steelers' Robert Dowd celebrates the gold medal in Belfast. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Robert Dowd, far right, fires home GB's first goal - and eventual game winning goal - against Japan in belfast on Saturday night. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Robert Dowd, far right, fires home GB's first goal - and eventual game winning goal - against Japan in belfast on Saturday night. Picture: Dean Woolley.

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