GB begin Olympic bid with victory

Great Britain began their bid to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics with a thrilling 6-5 victory over Netherlands in the pre-qualifying tournament in Cortina.

GB still have to face Serbia and hosts Italy, with the only the group winners progressing to the final qualifying stage.

Ronald Wurm gave Netherlands an early lead, but Russ Cowley quickly drew GB level.

After killing off a string of penalties, David Phillips put GB ahead with a shot through traffic for a 2-1 first period lead.

Matthew Myers extended the lead after 28 minutes, but Netherlands soon tied things up through Kevin Bruijsten and Maarten Brekelmans.

Ashley Tait set up Russ Cowley to tip in his second of the game after 36 minutes to give GB a one-goal advantage at the second intermission.

Netherlands refused to lie down and Bruijsten’s sweet finish from the slot made it 4-4 three minutes into the final session.

A great screen on the powerplay by Matthew Myers saw Colin Shields score his 33rd international goal and go joint-second in GB’s all-time scoring charts.

Netherlands seemed to be getting at least a point when Diederick Hagemeijer was left alone to fire past Ben Bowns and tie the game at 5-5 after 51 minutes, but Mark Richardson sealed the points for GB with four minutes left.

Head Coach Pete Russell said: “I’m not going to be disappointed with the outcome, as the result was the important thing.

“Yes, there are things we can work on and do better at, but getting that win is vital for us. We dug deep and we scored a lot of goals.

“I hear people say that GB struggle to score goals, but here we proved we can score and score at important times.

“We can now recharge of our batteries and get ready for our second game.”

Myers added: “We are aware where we have to improve and the things we need to do better in this short tournament.

“Getting the win was the most important thing and that is exactly what we did. I think Netherlands played a lot better than the last time we saw them.

“They were strong and quick and really took it to us at times. But we found a way to dig deep and now we must get ready for Serbia on Saturday.”

(Image permission: IceHockeyMedia)

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