Ben O’Connor confident growing self-belief will serve Great Britain well at IIHF World Championships

BEN O’CONNOR is determined for Great Britain to continue their improvement at the World Championships and avoid a repeat show when they take on Denmark later today.

Ben O'Connor battles in front of his net in the 7-1 defeat to Russia on saturday in Riga. Picture courtesy of Dean Woolley.

Pete Russell’s team head into the Group A encounter searching for their first points of the tournament having suffered defeats to Russia and Slovakia on the opening weekend.

Two years ago, GB suffered a 7-1 loss at the hands of then hosts Slovakians, who while clearly still the stronger team in Sunday’s encounter, were made to work hard for their 2-1 victory.

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And O’Connor is hoping he and his team-mates can again close the gap when they come up against Denmark at Riga’s Olympic Sports Centre later today (2.15pm UK time face-off).

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Two years ago in Slovakia, GB had targeted their Group A meeting against Denmark as a game they could take something from - but it ended up being their biggest defeat of the tournament as their opponents ran out comfortable 9-0 winners.

But given their ability to skate hard with group leaders Slovakia two days ago, O’Connor says self-belief within the GB team is strong ahead of today’s rematch with the Danes.

“These tournaments always prove that if you don’t show up and you don’t play well, you’ll get beat,” said O’Connor.

GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME: Ben O'Connor is confident GB will improve with each game at the World Championships. Picture: Dean Woolley.

“The last time we played Denmark we didn’t show up and we got rightly punished. That left a sour taste in our mouths and we want to make sure we put on a good show and build on our good performance against Slovakia.”

The Sheffield Steeldogs’ defenceman said one of the main aims during the remainder of the tournament for GB was about enhancing their top-tier experience and continuing to grow in confidence and proving to those outside the programme that they belong in the top tier, something they are guaranteed of repeating next year in Finland.

“We skated well with Slovakia, particularly in that third period and we were taking it to them at times,” added O’Connor. “Just having that belief and ensuring that we’re building and getting better as a programme, as a team is crucial - having that belief that we are good enough to be at this level and that we are good enough to play with these teams.

“On Sunday against Slovakia we showed that if we can stay out of the box and not give these teams any opportunities, we can skate with them and that has to be the message going forward - limit our penalties and use our feet.”

GB pushed world No 9 Slovakia close before succumbing to a 2-1 defeat on Sunday in Riga. Picture: Dean Woolley.

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