Russell hails GB’s “massive moment”

(PHOTO: Dean Woolley)

Great Britain coach Pete Russell has hailed the 4-3 overtime win over France as a ‘massive moment’ as his team secured survival in the top flight of the World Championships.

It was one to truly saviour as GB did it in dramatic fashion to end the their campaign on a massive high and consigning the French to relegation to Division 1A next year.

But Russell beamed with pride as his team signed off with the badly needed victory, upsetting the online betting odds, especially after seeing his team go 3-0 down.

“This is massive moment for the team and a massive moment in British ice hockey,” Russell said.

“At 3-0 we didn’t panic. I looked at the guys in the timeout and I knew which team was winning this game. They knew they could still do it.

“What they have just achieved is the biggest thing in their career. They drew strength from what they did in Hungary a year ago.

“They had the belief that they could win this game and I am so proud of every single one of them.”

After a day’s rest, GB were geared up for this game compared to a France side, beaten comprehensively by Finland on Sunday night.

Ben Davies spurned a golden chance to hit the French early by inexplicably trying a drop pass when he was clean through on netminder Florian Hardy.

Bowns was kept busy up the other end as he thwarted a breakaway, while Liam Kirk almost got on the board, only to see his chance hit the base of the post.

After a goalless first period, France got the opening marker four minutes into second period as Anthony Rech sent a shot in from the left circle.

Florian Chakiachvili doubled the lead a few minutes later with a powerplay goal, with Rech adding his second as France took advantage of the face off at the restart to make it 3-0.

It looked bleak for GB, but they continued to show the spirit they’ve shown throughout the tournament and found the net at a crucial point of the game.

Ben O’Connor’s pass released Sheffield Steelers team-mate Robert Dowd, who lifted his effort into the net to finally get Britain on the scoreboard.

Another apple for O’Connor came when his blueline shot was stopped by Hardy, with Mike Hammond on hand to sweep into the net from close range to really give hope something special was happening.

Robert Farmer, the hero from Budapest, brought the puck in from the right and delivered a finish to equalise after 45 minutes and the game was on as France started to tire and their survival hopes were hanging by a thread.

Regulation time couldn’t separate the teams so overtime was needed and after Bowns had made arguably the save of the game, GB moved forward as Jonathan Phillips provided Davies with a pass from the left.

The Guildford Flames man was in a central position and delivered the backhand finish to trigger massive celebrations as Britain’s place in Switzerland next year was confirmed.

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