MATCH REPORT: GREAT BRITAIN 1-2 SLOVAKIA

Great Britain ran the number nine seed in the world close but were beaten 2-1 by Slovakia in their second game in Group A of the World Championship at the Olympic Sports Centre in Riga.

Liam Kirk scored his second goal of the tournament, while netminder Ben Bowns saved 41 of the 43 shots he faced.

There were two changes to the line-up from Saturday’s defeat by Russia, with Paul Swindlehurst and Sam Duggan replacing Mark Garside and Lewis Hook.

Slovakia score early for first-period lead
Slovakia took the lead after 25 seconds through Marek Hrivik’s shot from the right circle, before Ben Davies went close for GB on his backhand.

Bowns had to be at his best to deny Kristian Pospisil twice and save from Robert Lantosi while at the other end, Robert Dowd tapped wide from Ben O’Connor’s shot.

Kirk scores second goal but Slovakia lead at second intermission
Slovakia were forced into a netminding switch to start the second period with Julius Hudacek replacing Branislav Konrad.

Kirk scored his second of the tournament, sweeping home on the doorstep after Brett Perlini’s shot was saved (22:03).

But Slovakia hit back within two minutes through Robert Lantosi’s accurate shot in the top right-hand corner at 24:42.

Brendan Connolly and Matthew Myers went close on the powerplay, while Bowns denied Peter Cehlarik from close range.

Slovakia hang on for victory
Kirk went close to equalising five minutes into the third session as GB fought to get back into the game.

GB lifted Bowns for the extra skater but were unable to find an equaliser and Slovakia held on for their second victory of the tournament.

Co-coach, Adam Keefe, said: “This was a terrific performance and we have come off the ice disappointed we did not get more out of the game.

“That shows how far we have come in the past few years. We took Slovakia close this afternoon and if a few bounces had gone our way it could’ve been a different story.

“We want to keep building as the tournament goes on and that performance is clear evidence we are getting stronger.

“We know have to rest-up, get back on the ice tomorrow and plan for Tuesday’s game against Denmark.”

GB return to action on Tuesday when they face Denmark (14:15pm UK time).

IIHF 2021 World Championship – GB results and fixtures
Saturday 22nd May – Great Britain 1-7 Russia – Goal: Liam Kirk 
Sunday 23rd May – Great Britain 1-2 Slovakia – Goal: Liam Kirk
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)

Photo credit: Dean Woolley.