Dismay for GB in Vilnius fails to dampen the optimism of Meyers

Sheffield Steelers' and GB defenceman Danny Meyers. Picture: Dean Woolley.
Sheffield Steelers' and GB defenceman Danny Meyers. Picture: Dean Woolley.
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SHEFFIELD STEELERS’ defenceman Danny Meyers insisted last night that Great Britain can still clinch World Championship promotion despite a surprise opening 4-0 defeat to Croatia.

Doug Christiansen’s team went into the Division 1B tournament as top seeds ahead of yesterday’s opening round of games in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius.

But they have left themselves facing an uphill battle if they are to achieve their pre-tournament aim of earning promotion back to Division 1A at the first attempt.

Although they enjoyed plenty of possession and out-shot their opponents by almost two to one, it was a somewhat disjointed performance by GB as they struggled to get any effective offence going.

Mario Novak put Croatia ahead at 12.56 when he cut inside and neatly finished on his backhand, before captain Dario Kostovic fired from left point to make it 2-0 with only 41 seconds of the first period remaining.

Croatia went 3-0 ahead at 27.26 as defenceman Alan Letang was allowed to roam freely in front of the net by David Phillips to poke a loose puck past netminder Stephen Murphy.

As GB pushed for a way back into the game and left themselves more exposed at the back, Kostovic netted his second and Croatia’s fourth at 46.12 when he worked space for himself near the left circle from where he fired through Murphy’s legs.

Hull Stingrays’ netminder Ben Bowns then replaced Murphy, to join his club team-mate Matty Davies on the ice, the 24-year-old centre making his competitive senior debut for his country.

Meyers said he was confident that GB could bounce back from their opening disappointment with a win against Romania today.

“With a five-game tournament anything can happen,” he said. “What we must not do is drop our heads and sulk and I know no one will do that. It was a tough loss to Croatia as I felt we had great spells of pressure and chances.”

Christiansen was critical of his team afterwards, saying performance levels needed to improve drastically.

“I am very disappointed with the outcome – we have got to be better against Romania than we were (yesterday),” he said.