GREAT BRITAIN 4 BELARUS 3
Liam Kirk’s double sent Great Britain on their way to a 4-3 win over Belarus – their first regulation time win in the top pool of the World Championships since 1962.
As the tournament progressed, you sensed this was coming. After being edged out by Slovakia, then taking a point in the overtime loss to Denmark, the confidence was growing in the team. They just needed to get the victory and they got it in style.
Belarus looked dangerous in the opening stages, testing Ben Bowns in the early stages including Francis Pare hitting the bar, but that was as close as they got.
GB started to find their rhythm and chances from Brendan Connolly and Ben O’Connor asked questions of Belarus netminder Danny Taylor.
But it was Kirk who would make the breakthrough as he moved menacingly into the opposition zone, drifted past the D-man and fired a low shot through Taylor to open the scoring.
Vladislav Kodola equalised for Belarus just before the half hour mark, just after Matthew Myers had emerged from the penalty box, sweeping up a rebound.
But GB surged ahead with two goals in the space of a minute and a half to send the watching fans at home in dreamland.
Jonathan Phillips worked hard near the corner to help it on to Myers, who teed up Davies, free in the centre to stab in another go-ahead goal.
Then O’Connor finding Kirk with a pass for the NHL prospect to fire into the top corner of Taylor’s net and put him ahead as the tournament’s leading goal scorer.
Belarus started to fight their way in the final ten minutes of the game as Geoff Platt buried one from close range to give them hope of turning things around.
Then Shane Prince’s shot from the slot on the powerplay beat Bowns to set up a nervy finale as GB hung on to a victory 59 years in the making.
Yegor Sharangovich crashed a shot off the post in the last minute, to GB’s relief, but ultimately, they couldn’t find a way through as the British players enjoyed a memorable victory in the end.
Co-coach, Adam Keefe couldn’t have been any prouder of the team post game.
“The players’ passion, desire and courage to do the things they need to do to win is remarkable,” he said post game. “The confidence comes from the room and the special bond they have.
“This was a fantastic performance against a very good team. We knew as a coaching staff and we believe in these players if they keep playing that way they will get their moment – and this is their moment.
“Everything that is happening to them right now is well deserved and well earned and all the credit in the world goes to each and every one of those players.
“If they compete like that night in, night out, they are going to be in every game – not just Belarus and Denmark, but teams like Sweden and Czech Republic.”
GB’s next game is on Friday when they take on Sweden, face off 2.15pm