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IIHF World Championship: 3 takeaways after Team GB’s heavy defeat against Finland

Brett Perlini’s second-period breakaway aside, Team GB never looked like beating Emil Larmi in the Finnish net.

Cade Neilson, Team GB (Image: Dean Woolley)

It was an afternoon to forget for Team Great Britain at the IIHF World Championship, with Finland running away 8-0 winners on the second day of play in Prague.

Pete Russell’s squad held the second seeds to a one-goal deficit at the first intermission, with Great Britain containing Finland in a low-event opening period, but were blown away in the remaining minutes as the quality difference tolled.

The Finns scored five times in the second period, penning Team GB in their zone with elite-level cycle play, and added another pair in the final frame to record a deserved and comprehensive victory.

With that in mind, here are three takeaways from Great Britain’s defeat to Finland.

Ben Bowns left exposed in ugly second period display

Russell made two changes to the side that lost to Canada on Saturday [11 May], with Ben Bowns replacing Jackson Whistle in net and Josh Tetlow taking Sam Ruopp’s place on the blueline.

Bowns’ inclusion sparked debate before puck drop and his performance proved even more divisive.

The 33-year-old produced a 39-save performance, including a handful of double stops that prevented the Finns from running up the score even further.

Ben Bowns, Team GB (Image: Dean Woolley)

Ben Bowns, Team GB (Image: Dean Woolley)

It’s only right that questions are asked of a netminder in the aftermath of a game that saw them fish the puck out of their net eight times, but blame on Bowns is largely misplaced.

Finland ate Team GB alive in the second period, with their blueliners activating down low to overload Russell’s side in prime areas of the ice.

Jukka Jalonen is known for coaching his teams to be fluid offensively — and his players’ movement was the difference on Sunday, with Great Britain pulled from pillar to post in the defensive zone.

Team GB lost the majority of puck battles in front of Bowns’ net as a result, creating the perfect conditions for tipped and rebounded goals.

Bowns won’t be happy with his performance, but the loss wasn’t his fault.

It was a rough day at the office for Team GB and that alone shouldn’t convince Russell to move away from his goalie rotation strategy.

Team GB’s penalty kill continues to impress in Prague

Team GB allowed their frustration to boil over on a handful of occasions against Finland, with Ben Lake, Evan Mosey, and Nathanael Halbert taking unnecessary trips to the penalty box.

However, Russell’s penalty killers were exceptional (again) and were only beaten once in three attempts by Finland’s high-powered offence.

The Brits were brilliant at clearing pucks around the crease while down a player, collapsing to protect the net front and keep Finland to the outside.

Against demonstrably superior opponents, ill-discipline won’t be the difference between victory and defeat for Team GB — but they must be more responsible against Norway and Austria.

Team GB suffer tough day at the office versus dominant Finland

Brett Perlini’s second-period breakaway aside, Team GB never looked like beating Emil Larmi in the Finnish net.

As Paul Adey acknowledged on Premier Sports’ broadcast, you don’t win hockey games when averaging three-and-a-half shots per period — especially against elite opposition of Finland’s ilk.

But Russell and his players shouldn’t be too dispirited after this loss, which saw them match one of the best (and well-coached) teams on the planet before the wheels fell off in the second period when fatigue caught up with them.

It’s hard to play twice in as many days and Team GB’s tiredness was clear to see after they emptied the tank in the opening exchanges.

Robert Dowd, Team GB (Image: Dean Woolley)

Robert Dowd, Team GB (Image: Dean Woolley)

“They were excellent today,” said captain Robert Dowd, “we knew that we were going to have our backs against the wall from the start but they were brilliant at took advantage when we ran out of steam a little bit in the second period. They scored five goals and it’s tough to contain them after that.”

Team GB, with two days rest until they take on Switzerland, will now regroup and turn their attention to the games that really matter down the stretch.

Dowd added: “These aren’t the games that are going to keep us at this level — we’re not silly, our aim isn’t to win medals, we just want to stay at this level. These first few games are just about building to the final few so that we can try to steal some wins.”

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