Belfast Telegraph

GB off to a flyer in their hunt for gold

Croatia 2-4 Great Britain

By Stuart McKinley

Great Britain coach Pete Russell believes that his team can get even better after opening their World Championship Division 1 Group B campaign with a 4-2 victory over Croatia at the SSE Arena.

Four superb goals, from former Belfast Giants forward Robert Dowd - who also assisted on two others - David Clarke, Evan Mosey and Russ Cowley, saw GB get off to a perfect start in their challenge for a gold medal, but it wasn't until the third period that they made sure of the win.

Mislav Blagus had levelled for Croatia midway through the game after Dowd's first period opener, but although Cardiff Devils forward David Brine pulled one back for Croatia late on after Clarke and Mosey had put GB in the driving seat, Cowley made sure of the win with just 64 seconds left on the clock.

"It wasn't our best performance but we came up big in the third period," said Russell.

"They could've let their heads drop after a disappointing second period, but we came out strong and two quick goals effectively sealed the game.

"It's a long tournament and we should be very happy with the result, but the good thing is they know they can do better.

"We had some good performances all across the ice and it's important the players rest now ahead of another big game."

After successfully killing a couple of early penalties GB took the lead on their first powerplay of the game at 15:30 - and what a goal it was.

Mark Richardson found Dowd in space between the circles, he looked up, picked his spot and unleashed a shot from distance that flew into the net through traffic.

Croatia were level at 28:17 on a powerplay of their own.

GB goaltender Ben Bowns saved Nathan Perkovich's initial shot, but Brine got to the rebound first, pushed the puck into Blagus' path and he found the net from close range.

Two goals in the first seven minutes of the third period won the game for GB.

They went ahead for the second time in the game at 43:46 when Craig Peacock skated through the zones before pushing the puck out to Clarke on the left and he fired a stunning shot from wide that beat goaltender Mate Tomljenovic low to his right. Tomljenovic will be even more disappointed with the goal that put GB 3-1 up at 46:45 as Mosley's shot went right though his pads after he was set up by a great pass from Dowd.

Brine levelled at 54:25 when he pounced on a rebound after Borna Rendulic's shot had hit Bowns in the chest, but hopes of a Croatia comeback were killed off when Cowley got his stick to Robert Lachowicz's shot to seal the win.

RESULTS: Netherlands 1 Japan 6, Croatia 2 Great Britain 4, Estonia 0 Lithuania 3.

TODAY'S FIXTURES: Japan v Croatia (12.30pm), Lithuania v Netherlands (4pm), Great Britain v Estonia (7.30pm)

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