GB U20 stun France with late winner

Ollie Betteridge scored the game winner 31 seconds from the end of regulation time as Great Britain U20 defeated hosts France 4-3 in a thrilling World Championship Division 1B match in Megeve.

Betteridge netted a wrist shot from the left face-off circle with GB on the powerplay, following a match penalty to Rudy Matina for checking from behind two minutes from time.

It was another rollercoaster evening at the Palais des Sports as GB fell 2-0 behind inside five minutes.

Gabin Ville was the trailing man on an odd man rush at 00.37 and he fired past Churchfield in the GB net. Then on a five-on-three powerplay Bastien Maia scored from the slot at 4.58 for a 2-0 French lead.

Britain settled down after the early goals and crucially reduced the arrears before the first break. Cameron McGiffin’s shot was tipped in front of net by Luc Johnson, the puck redirected into the bottom corner of the net at 17.18.

After an early spell of four-on-four at the start of period two, GB tied the game through Lewis Hook who skated into the French zone and went in on net before backhanding the puck into the net for 2-2 at 22.22.

Bastien Maia restored the France lead at 33.34 with a shorthanded goal. Churchfield saved the initial shot but Maia forced home the rebound from close range, giving the home nation a narrow lead heading into the final period.

France took three minor penalties in the first six minutes of the third session, and were facing another as GB scored the equaliser on a delayed penalty.

Ollie Betteridge laid the puck off to Macaulay Heywood and his one-timer flew into the net at 46.52 and the game was tied again at 3-3.

GB failed to convert three successive powerplays in the 47th to 50th minute and momentum seemed to have swung after Harvey Stead’s holding penalty five minutes from time put France on a rare powerplay.

The British side killed Stead’s minor then were handed a late lifeline. Cameron McGiffin was hit into the boards in the left corner of the GB zone by Matima and required medical treatment on the ice.

The referee had no hesitation pointing to the dressing room and the French player became the third this week to receive a match penalty.

GB moved the puck around on the powerplay until heading to the final 30 seconds, where Alex Forbes and Lewis Hook worked the opening for captain Betteridge and he didn’t need a second invitation.

France pulled their goalie and pressed for a late equaliser, but a couple of crucial face-off wins by Glenn Billing meant GB held onto possession and played out time for a famous, dramatic win.

Head Coach Tom Watkins commented: “I said to the players today was about belief and what we felt that we could get from the remainder of the tournament.

“Mind you I never expected to be two goals down so quickly, but what a great way to bounce back. We had a great second period after a sloppy first period.

“We hung in there a bit with some great goaltending from Ben Churchfield and then we got our game going in the second and third and had a little more confidence on the puck.

“There was a lot of time on special teams and we could have converted more powerplays, but we scored two huge powerplay goals with Macaulay Heywood jumping into the play for his one-timer then Ollie at the end scoring at the back door.”

Great Britain play their fourth and final game on Wednesday against Ukraine (2.30pm UK time) while the tournament concludes on Friday – each side have an extra ‘rest’ day following the late withdrawal of Japan.

Coverage of the Ukraine game will be on the @TeamGBicehockey Twitter account which will link to a live stream of the game via Periscope.

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