Should GB get a point from their final-day encounter with hosts Hungary, it will be enough to send them into the top tier of the world game next year where they will mix it with the sport’s leading nations such as Canada, Russia, Sweden and Finland.
Sheffield Steelers’ duo Rob Dowd and Ben O’Connor got on the scoresheet for GB who, after taking an early lead for the fourth game running, showed impressive character to hold off the charge from the higher-seeded Italians.
Brett Perlini fired GB ahead at 7.01 and, although Italy equalised within 22 seconds, Dowd quickly restored his side’s one-goal lead at 8.07.
Again the Italians levelled, this time through Thomas Larkin at 13.30 but, less than three minutes into the second period, O’Connor’s speculative shot found a way past Andreas Bernard in the Italian goal.
Giulio Scandella bagged Italy's third equaliser of the night as he broke clear from the blueline and made it 3-3 at 45.08, only for Perlini to bag his fourth goal of the tournament at 48.44 to restore a lead that GB hung on to for their third win in four games, enough to top the group by three points ahead of Saturday’s final round of matches.
"I have said this week 'dare to dream' and I will say it again,” said head coach Russell.
"This was something else. The performance they put in tonight was out of this world. We had amazing backing from our wonderful supporters and everyone came together on another great night.
“The boys dug deep, they found a way and now know they can create some history. But we have to continue in the same manner we have all tournament.”