A “GUTSY” fourth win in as many games has put Great Britain within touching distance of a return to the second tier of the world game.
A 3-2 win over hosts Netherlands in Eindhoven on Saturday means Pete Russell’s team need just a point from Sunday afternoon’s final game of the tournament against Lithuania to guarantee top spot and the promotion from Division 1B that comes with it
A three-goal burst in eight first-period minutes proved to be the difference between the two teams, although it didn’t look too promising after the hosts took the lead through Steve Mason at 3.09.
But GB were level within a minute, hitting back through Paul Swindlehurst’s first international goal at 4.01.
The group leaders then took the lead just over five minutes later when Chris Blight backhanded through the netminder’s arm. At 12.13, Craig Peacock gave the vocal contingent of British fans even more to cheer about when he fired past Martijn Oosterwijk, who was immediately replaced in net by Ian Meierdres.
The replacement kept his team in the game in the second period with a string of fine saves, in particular doing well to deny Sheffield Steelers’ pair Jonathan Phillips and Ben O’Connor, the two two-goal hero from Thursday’s comeback win against Korea.
Other chances came and went during the third as GB missed opportunities to close the game out. And they were made to pay and endure a nervous final few minutes when Netherlands broke clear and Levi Houkes scored on a rebound from GB netminder Ben Bowns at 53.58.
“This was another gutsy performance from the guys and we had to dig in a little,” said a delighted Russell afterwards.
“Netherlands put up a massive fight and they played really well, but we stuck it out and got the win.
“We just need one more now. We are on the verge of something very special.
“These boys are focused and calm, so they won’t get carried away, but it is a fantastic place to be in going into tomorrow’s game.”
Guaranteed a silver medal, GB have a two-point lead over second-placed Korea, but would top the table if they tied on points because of their win over Korea earlier in the week.
They could even be crowned gold medal winners before even touching a puck should Korea fail to gain a regulation time win in Sunday’s opening game against Croatia. GB’s clash with Lithuania is the second scheduled game at 4pm (UK time).