MATCH REPORT: GREAT BRITAIN 1-7 RUSSIA

Liam Kirk scored his first goal for his country but Great Britain were beaten 7-1 by Russia in their opening game at the World Championship in Latvia.

Three players were handed their debuts with first GB caps for David Clements, Lewis Hook and Josh Tetlow.

Jackson Whistle was given the start in goal while Ben Bowns won his 50th cap – only the 26th player in GB history to reach the half-century milestone.

Kirk scores first GB goal after Russia’s quick-fire four-goal blast
After a bright opening five minutes for GB, Russia took the lead on the powerplay through Anton Burdasov’s shot from the right circle at 5:53.

A short-handed top-shelf shot from Mikhail Grigorenko made it 2-0 at 7:19 before Burdasov scored his second at 8:21.

Sergei Tolchinski’s neat finish on the breakaway made if 4-0 at 10:51 as Russian scored four times in just under five minutes.

But Great Britain gave themselves a lifeline on the powerplay as the first period came to a close, as Brendan Connolly and Robert Dowd combined to set-up Kirk in the left circle (18:46).

Russia score only goal of second period 
A break down the middle and a backhand finish from Pavel Karnaukhov increased Russia’s lead at 30:08, before GB had their best spell of the period.

Ben O’Connor fired wide from the left-hand side while at the other end, Jackson Whistle made a fantastic save to deny Igor Ozhiganov.

Russia see out the game in third period
Britain had an early powerplay in the third period and Mike Hammond saw his shot saved, while Robert Dowd and Robert Lachowicz also went close.

Russia scored with a man advantage at 49:59 through Andrei Uzmenko’s neat finish across Whistle and Anton Slepyshev netted from close range at 53:20.

Co-coach, Corey Neilson, said: “We played a really great side and congratulations to Russia on their victory.

“The coaching staff were very impressed with our compete level and you can’t forget we played the second best team in the world.

“The key thing is we stuck at it and didn’t let our heads drop. We have positives to take out of the game for sure.

“Now we need to make sure we rest as we have another game against a very skilled and young Slovakia side.”

Great Britain face Slovakia tomorrow at lunchtime in Latvia (10:15am UK face-off).

IIHF 2021 World Championship – GB results fixtures
Saturday 22nd May – Great Britain 1-7 Russia – Goal: Liam Kirk 
Sunday 23rd May – Great Britain v Slovakia – 12:15 face-off (10:15 UK time)
Tuesday 25th May – Great Britain v Denmark – 16:15 face-off (14:15 UK time)
Wednesday 26th May – Belarus v Great Britain – 20:15 face-off (18:15 UK time)
Friday 28th May – Sweden v Great Britain – 16:15 face-off (14:15 UK time)
Saturday 29th May – Czech Republic v Great Britain – 12:15 face-off (10:15 UK time)
Tuesday 1st June – Switzerland v Great Britain – 12:15 face-off (10:15 UK time)