Sheffield Steelers' stars past and present help Great Britain open World Championship campaign in winning style
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While Saturday’s 4-0 win over Korea was a comfortable experience for Pete Russell’s team, the clash against newly-promoted Poland less than 24 hours later at the Motorpoint Arena was anything but.
In the end, the tournament hosts required a power play winner in overtime from Ben Lake to take two points in a 4-3 victory from a game which, with just 90 seconds to go in regulation, they looked like taking all three on offer.
A rest day now follows for all six teams in the tournament before GB resume action on Tuesday against Lithuania. Further tests follow later in the week against Romania and Italy, the final opponent considered by many to be the main stumbling block to GB’s hopes of a gold medal.
But there are two spots available for teams to join top-tier heavyweight nations such as Canada, Sweden, Finland and the USA in next year’s top-tier tournament when it is staged in the Czech Republic.
It was from an unlikely source that GB took the lead against Poland when Sheffield Steelers’ Jonathan Phillips neatly re-directed a pass from the right circle by Robert Lachowicz with just 1.57 on the clock.
Poland, who opened up their tournament with a 7-0 win over Lithuania on day one, levelled in the 11th minute through Diminik Pas.
The second period belonged to the hosts and although their opponents were a constant threat throughout, they got themselves ahead again when good work by Liam Kirk on the left boards saw him find Cade Neilson who fired home at 23.36.
A five-minute power play then saw Kirk get on the board himself at 33.07 after good work by Neilson and Nathanael Halbert.
But Poland refused to go away and deservedly pulled a goal back through Pawel Zygmunt in the 46th minute, their continued pressure gaining them an equaliser at 54.23 from Kamil Walega.
GB thought they had won it when, with 90 seconds left, Mike Hammond diverted an Evan Mosey shot into the net but, with just 48 seconds remaining and with goalie John Murray pulled for the extra skater, Bartosz Frasko's shot looped over Ben Bowns for Poland's equaliser.
But Lake proved to be in the right place at the right time when he fired home from close range just over two-and-a-half minutes into overtime.
Goals from Lake, Sheffield Steelers’ Robert Dowd, Neilson and Kirk sealed a 4-0 win over Korea in a controlled performance on opening night in front of a 4,000-plus crowd.