HEAD coach Pete Russell hailed another battling performance by his Great Britain team after they went down 5-0 to Finland at the World Championships in Slovakia.
GB held the world’s fifth seeds to a goalless first period but Finland scored three times in the middle session, before adding a late empty-netter and powerplay goal to secure the three points.
It means GB are still winless after five games ahead of tonight’s encounter with hosts Slovakia but, as was always likely to be the case, they look set to face a relegation decider against fellow strugglers France on Monday afternoon.
“We faced another great team and gave it a good go,” said Russell. “Finland were quick and efficient and every bit as good as we expected them to be. But our boys keep battling, had a few chances and gave it everything they had.”
Brett Perlini had GB’s first chance but Finland came back strong and Ben Bowns once again had to produce some top-class saves, including one from Kaapo Kakko.
Finland were creating the better chances but GB came close when Ollie Betteridge’s shot was saved and the puck was taken away from Jonathan Phillips as he was about to poke in the rebound.
Thirty-four seconds into the second period Finland went ahead through Toni Rajala’s rebound, with Atte Ohtamaa making it 2-0 at 25:08.
GB’s best chance of the period fell to Betteridge but his shot was saved by Jussi Olkinuora and after Bowns denied Kakko, Joel Kiviranta scored Finland’s third with a nice back-hand finish at 34.59.
Bowns continued to frustrate Finland with another outstanding performance, while Ben O’Connor was denied with a shot from right point.
Finland wrapped the game up – and secured their fourth win in five matches – with an empty-net goal from Kristian Kuusela 57.27, which was added to by Mikko Lehtonen’s powerplay strike at 59.49.
We faced another great team and gave it a good go. Finland were quick and efficient and every bit as good as we expected them to be. But our boys keep battling, had a few chances and gave it everything they had.”GB head coach Pete Russell
On tonight’s game against Slovakia, Russell added: “It’s going to be a brilliant atmosphere and the boys are looking forward to it. It is important we get some rest now but the boys are ready and they have two massive games left in the tournament.”