WATCH: Great Britain 5 Lithuania 2 - Hosts heading towards Japan promotion showdown
The third straight win for Pete Russell’s team at the SSE Arena in Belfast leaves the hosts level on points with Japan, who continued their own winning start with a 6-2 victory over Estonia earlier in the day. The two meet in the final round of games on Saturday.
Sheffield Steelers’ pair Jonathan Phillips and Ben O’Connor both got on the scoresheet against Lithuania, with Colin Shields, Evan Mosey and Robert Farmer also finding a way past Lithuanian goalie Artur Pavliukov.
The game looked done and dusted after the first period when the hosts - playing in front of another disappointingly low crowd - went in 4-1 ahead, much to the delight of head coach Russell.
“We made a fantastic start and really took it to them in the first period,” said Russell. “We were unplayable at times.
“We just kept going at them and some of our passing was superb. The game was pretty much over in the first period, but credit to Lithuania they came back strong and gave us a more difficult second period.
“We are where we want to be with three wins. We need to come back on Friday and do the same against Netherlands.”
The hosts went ahead at 1.41 when Shields reacted first from close range to a rebound from an O’Connor shot, taking his total to 38 international goals. But it was a goal arguably made in the UK which saw Lithuania quickly draw level when Sheffield Steeldogs’ forwards Arnoldas Bosas found himself free at the back post to tip home a pass from Peterborough Phantoms’ Darius Pliskauskas just 31 seconds later.
But GB and Steelers’ captain Phillips - playing in a full visor because of serious facial injury sustained in Monday’s victory over Estonia - put his side ahead for a second time when he redirected Paul Swindlehurst’s shot in past an unsighted Pavliukov at 7.26.
A neat piece of skill and balance from Mosey at 12.55 then saw the hosts double their lead before Nottingham Panthers’ forward Farmer fired a rasping shot in from just inside the blue line just under four minutes later.
Lithuania - fresh from their 8-0 thrashing of the Netherlands on Monday - could only improve in the second period and duly did so, frustrating the hosts going forward, while going close on a couple of occasions, once chance Emilius Krakauskas rattling Bowns’s post.
At the other end, Brendan Brooks was denied in a one-on-one with Pavliukov, while Liam Stewart missed the target when well placed.
Lithuania got the reward their improvement deserved just 33 seconds into the third when Ugnius Cizas tapped in unmarked, but O’Connor - who has just agreed a new, two-year with the Steelers - added to his two assists when picking the puck up just inside the GB half before skating on and finding a way through Pavliukov’s legs at 47.47.
With another rest day scheduled for Thursday, the teams return to action on Friday when Gb will take on the Netherlands at 7.30pm, with Japan facing Lithuania and Croatia taking on Estonia in the first game of the day.