Battling GB scare America as Bowns impresses again

Ben Bowns makes an amazing save to deny Jack Hughes late on (PHOTO: Dean Woolley)

They battled, they fought and went toe-to-toe, but despite seeing another loss added to the column, this was the performance that had the hockey world talking about Great Britain.

After Tuesday’s 9-0 humbling at the hands of Denmark, not much hope was placed on Pete Russell’s bruised and battered team doing anything on a USA team, reckoned to be their strongest at this competition for a few years.

Sure, they ran out 6-3 victors in the end, but one factor was plain to see. Jeff Blashill’s men got one hell of a fright in the Steel Arena of Kosice.

USA fired a shot across the GB bows as Dylan Larkin saw an early chance saved by Ben Bowns’ pads, but the Brits were determined not to crumble early against the team ranked fourth in the world.

There were chances on the American goal as Thatcher Demo, the Vancouver Canucks netminder had to be on his toes as Ben O’Connor, Evan Mosey and Ollie Betteridge all tried to make the breakthrough.

USA got the opening goal, a somewhat scrappy effort as James van Riemsdyk scrambled the puck over the line, with a bit of help from captain Patrick Kane after 12 minutes.

(PHOTO: Dean Woolley)

Just three minutes later, GB were on level terms when Davey Phillips’ pass found Mike Hammond, who saw his initial chance stopped before tucking away the rebound.

The Americans saw a goal chopped off in the early stages of the second period, but eventually added to their tally through Clayton Keller.

A close range finish from Chris Kreider opened up a two-goal lead shortly after and it seemed like USA would pull away and serve up another heavy loss.

A fourth goal, coming from Alex Debrincat, certainly looked to take the game that way, but GB hit back with a finish at the end of second period to show they weren’t out of it yet.

A loose puck broke nicely for Brett Perlini, who hit a low shot past Demo and the gap was closed to two as the fans built the noise.

Kane got on the board a minute after the second interval, with Derek Ryan making it 6-2 with ten minutes as the game looked to be over.

While the result had been resolved, there was a final flourish as Ben Davies produced a top shelf finish and create his own special moment of the competition.

Then Bowns came up with a save that’s been watched the world over, denying young prospect Jack Hughes, a player tipped to be the number one draft pick in the NHL later this summer.

In the end, the guys were out on their feet, but after the Denmark debacle, pride was more than restored and the feeling GB could yet survive this group.

The performance left head coach Pete Russell feeling proud post match and he paid tribute to the fans, who made their own contribution.

He said: “That performance was what GB is all about. We were fantastic and we gave one of the best teams in the world a great game.  It’s a performance we should be very proud of.

“Some people wrote us off after yesterday but we showed what we can do tonight. Our supporters were amazing and they were fantastic all night.  Their noise and passion drove us on.”

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