Bronze now the sole target for GB in Vilnius

Great Britain coach Doug Christiansen. Picture: Dean Woolley.
Great Britain coach Doug Christiansen. Picture: Dean Woolley.
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THEIR gold medal hopes may have gone but Great Britain aim to go out on a high at the World Championships in Vilnius on Saturday.

Doug Christiansen’s team entered the Division 1B tournament as the highest-placed team in the IIHF rankings.

But defeats to Croatia and hosts Lithuania in their first three games ended their chance of earning promotion back to the second tier of the world game at the first attempt.

A 4-3 win over the Netherlands yesterday ensured that their hopes of a bronze medal remain alive ahead of tomorrow’s final game against Poland, who secured gold and promotion to Division 1A with a 4-1 win over Croatia yesterday.

Colin Shields and David Clarke gave GB an early 2-0 lead against the Netherlands, who halved the deficit through an 11th-minute strike from Nardo Nagtzaam.

Sheffield Steelers’ Danny Meyers restored the two-goal lead at 34.48 and after Nagtzaam again cut the lead early in the third, Matthew Myers made it 4-2 two minutes later. Although the Dutch made it a one-goal game again through Kevin Bruijsten at 45.58, GB held on for the win.

In order to secure bronze, GB need to beat Poland in regulation and hope Lithuania beat Croatia, also in regulation.

Sheffield Steelers’ forward Phil Hill, said: “Some might think we have lost heart as the gold medal we came to win has gone.

“But that is not the case and we want to end the tournament well.

“Beating Poland would give us a chance of winning the bronze, although we know we would still have to rely on another result.”

Netminder Ben Bowns, again preferred ahead of Stephen Murphy, said it was important for GB to end the tournament on a positive note.

“There’s a great group of guys here and we all want to do something special for Great Britain,” said Bowns, who earlier this week ended his two-year stint with Hull Stingrays to join Elite League rivals Cardiff Devils.

“We can build for next year now and end this tournament with a positive feel.

“We are all focused on winning that bronze medal. We can build from that and look at what we can achieve next season.

“We know we failed in our main objective of promotion back to Division 1A, but we can end the tournament on a major positive and do something to be proud of.”