Great Britain backed to build on IIHF World Championship showing in Riga

COACH Adam Keefe is convinced Great Britain can look forward to next year’s World Championships in Finland with confidence after bringing down the curtain on their 2021 campaign.

By Phil Harrison
Tuesday, 1st June 2021, 10:15 pm
Updated Wednesday, 2nd June 2021, 7:57 am
STRIKE TWO: Liam Kirk, far right, fires in his second goal against Switzerland. Picture: Dean Woolley.
STRIKE TWO: Liam Kirk, far right, fires in his second goal against Switzerland. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Liam Kirk scored twice to become the tournament’s leading goalscorer, as GB were beaten 6-3 by Switzerland in their final Group A game in Riga.

It means they head home from Latvia having finished 14th overall in the standings, leaving the top eight teams to compete in the knockout stages which begin tomorrow.

It may have been GB’s sixth defeat out of seven group games, but they have elevated themselves in their second successive appearance in the top tier, proving an obdurate opponent with co-coaches Keefe and Corey Neilson – running the team in the absence of head coach Peter Russell – proud of the entire roster.

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“We wanted to come and compete and that is what we have done against some of the best teams in the world,” said Keefe. “As a coaching staff, we are proud of every single one of the players.

“There have been some fantastic moments with the top one being the victory over Belarus.

“We can now build on this for next year in Finland and going forward in the future. The team has the confidence now that it belongs at this level and they keep showing it time and time again.”

After going behind to an 11th-minute Gregory Hoffman effort, Kirk struck back within 37 seconds to level, although Switzerland went in ahead through Romain Loeffel’s shot at 16.42.

IN THE MIX: Brendan Connolly makes it 6-3 in the third period against Switzerland in Riga. Picture: Dean Woolley.

Kirk scored his second of the afternoon, putting away a rebound on the powerplay after Mark Richardson’s shot was saved (25.34), but Switzerland took control with two goals in 13 seconds, Santeri Alatalo’s effort at 30.07 being added to be a Christoph Bertschy goal.

GB fell four goals behind when New Jersey Devils’ forward Nico Hischier finished off a well-worked move at 37.45.

Jackson Whistle replaced Ben Bowns in the GB goal at the start of the third period, with only the one goal being scored when Sheffield steelers’ Brendan Connolly struck at 53.58.

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Liam Kirk celebrates his second goal against Switzerland. Picture: Dean Woolley.