O’CONNOR: GB HAVE ‘CONFIDENCE AND BELIEF’ TO COMPETE AT TOP LEVEL

Defenceman Ben O’Connor says Great Britain have the “confidence and belief” they can play at the top level of the World Championship.

Liam Kirk scored his first GB goal on Saturday as they opened their Group A campaign at the Olympic Sports Centre with a 7-1 defeat by Russia, who are ranked second in the world.

GB then matched the number nine seed Slovakia yesterday afternoon but were narrowly beaten 2-1, with Kirk getting his second goal in as many matches.

It’s a second successive top-flight tournament for GB as they avoided relegation in 2019, coming from 3-0 down to win 4-3 in overtime against France.

“We have the confidence and belief that we can play with these teams,” said O’Connor who won his 64th cap on Sunday.

“Last time, we showed against Germany we could play and we went on to have ups and downs during the tournament.

“To come back from three goals down against France shows the character we have in this team.

“Our team is built on character and togetherness, that never-say-die attitude.”

After trailing in the first period to Slovakia, Kirk’s close-range finish pulled GB level before Slovakia went on to win by two goals to one.

“Coming to this tournament, we all knew the level we need to be at,” continued O’Connor.

“We have to play smart and I think we did that against Slovakia. We frustrated them at times.

“They had some great opportunities but we shut the door. We have great goaltending and we trust one another.

“We just have to build and go onto the next one and make sure it’s an improvement.”

GB return to action tomorrow against Denmark (face-off 14:15 UK time).

All of GB’s games are live on FreeSports in the UK. FreeSports is available free on Sky Channel 422, Virgin Media Channel 553, on Channel 64 on Freeview and BT and via the FreeSports Player.

Photo credit: Dean Woolley.