Great Britain 2 Denmark 3 (OT) – GB up & running at World Championships in Riga

ANOTHER DAY, another significant step forward at the elite level of the World Championships for Great Britain.

By Phil Harrison
Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 9:59 pm
Updated Wednesday, 26th May 2021, 12:17 pm
TAKE THAT: GB's Rob Dowd, left and Josh Tetlow, right, keep Denmark's Julian Jakobsen occupied. Picture: Dean Woolley.
TAKE THAT: GB's Rob Dowd, left and Josh Tetlow, right, keep Denmark's Julian Jakobsen occupied. Picture: Dean Woolley.

A tournament that started with a 7-1 defeat against a highly-skilled Russia, was followed by a more disciplined approach in a 2-1 loss against early Group A leaders, Slovakia.

That performance allowed them to spend their day off on Monday in confident mood ahead of Tuesday’s meeting with a Denmark team who hammered them 9-0 only two years ago.

That defeat – in a game which GB had fancied their chances beforehand of taking something from – hurt a lot.

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Yesterday, GB – much like they did against a Slovakian team who had also beaten them heavily (7-1) two years previously – again showed that they belong at this level.

Ultimately, the result goes down as another loss – Nicklas Jensen firing home an overtime winner for the Danes past Ben Bowns at 64.35 – but GB are up and running having matched their opponents in regulation to earn a deserved point.

Given captain Jonathan Phillip was picking up his 100th cap for his country, it was only right that his team should produce their best performance of the tournament so far. It was also a big day for Phillis’s Sheffield Steelers’ team-mate, defenceman Sam Jones who was making his international debut, along with forward Ciaran Long.

OPENING SALVO: Ben O’Connor (No 28) celebrates his early goal which gave Gb the lead in Riga agaisnt Denmark. Picture: Dean Woolley

Sheffield Steeldogs’ defenceman Ben O’Connor fired his team into the lead with just 2.33 on the board, but Denmark – already victors over Sweden – were level just after 10 minutes through a neat backhanded effort by Julian Jakobsen.

Just over three minutes later, GB found themselves behind when Nicklas Jensen’s effort deflected off Josh Tetlow’s stick and past Ben Bowns.

But GB rallied and outshot their opponents over the next 40 minutes, eventually getting their reward when Ben Lake’s speed bought him the time to set up the advancing Mike Hammond to fire home the equaliser at 56.18.

It secured a valuable point but, similarly to how they felt after the defeat to Slovakia, GB’s players came off the ice believing they deserved more.

MAGIC MILESTONE: Jonathan Phillips earned his 100th GB cap in Tuesday's game against Denmark. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Joint assistant-coach Corey Neilson, who along with Adam Keefe is running the GB operation in the absence of head coach Pete Russell, said the result - while ultimately disappointing – proved how far the GB team had come in a short space of time.

“It was another great performance and it just shows how far we have come in recent years,” said Neilson. “Yes, we have come off the ice disappointed that we didn’t win but we have so many reasons to be proud of that display.

“We ran a fantastic side very close and our guys just threw their bodies on the line time and time again. The boys now need some rest ahead of Belarus, who will bring difference challenges but we are excited to compete against them.”

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