Hewitt confident GB can accomplish their mission in Vilnius

Great Britain and Sheffield Steelers forward Jason Hewitt in training on Tuesday. Picture courtesy of Colin Lawson.
Great Britain and Sheffield Steelers forward Jason Hewitt in training on Tuesday. Picture courtesy of Colin Lawson.
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JASON HEWITT believes Great Britain can still be a “force to be reckoned with” at the World Championships as Doug Christiansen’s side prepare to face hosts Lithuania in Vilnius.

Having lost their opening game 4-0 to Croatia, GB bounced back on Monday with a 4-1 victory over Romania to get their campaign back on track.

Defeat on Wednesday, however, would end hopes of earning promotion back to the second tier from where they were relegated last year.

“We know we can compete and be a force to be reckoned with at this tournament,” said Sheffield Steelers forward Hewitt. “It will be a tough game against Lithuania in front of a packed house.”

Despite the convincing scoreline, Hewitt felt GB were unfortunate not to take anything out of the game against Croatia, who were able to celebrate their first-ever victory over their rivals on Sunday before winning by the same margin against the Netherlands 24 hours later.

“It was an excellent win against Romania and the perfect tonic to bounce back from the defeat by Croatia,” added Hewitt.

“We actually played with confidence in both games and were certainly unlucky not to get more out of the first game.”

Wednesday’s encounter in Vilnius will be a special occasion for Hewitt’s former Steelers’ team-mate Ashley Tait, who will win his 100th cap to move him one behind all-time leader David Longstaff.

“It is very special to be reaching 100 caps,” said 38-year-old Tait.

“I still get the same pride as I did all those years ago when I first pulled on a GB shirt.

“We have a great bunch of guys out here and it is special to be sharing this moment with them.

“Hopefully we can mark it with a win – we have upset home nations in front of passionate crowds in the past and there’s no reason why we can’t do it again.”

The main weapon for the hosts on Wednesday will be their captain Dainius Zubrus, the New Jersey Devils forward with more than 1,250 NHL appearances to his name.

The 35-year-old has posted a goal and two assists in the hosts’ opening two games, which saw them earn a 4-0 victory over the Netherlands, before they fell to a 3-2 defeat to Poland.

The Poles are now considered the favourites to earn promotion to Division 1A although Christiansen’s team will be hoping they will still be in a position to pip them to the gold medal when the two teams meet in the final round of games on Saturday.