RICHARDSON: HEARTBREAK HELPED US GROW AS A TEAM

Defenceman Mark Richardson believes Great Britain have been spurred on in recent seasons by the heartbreak they endured in back-to-back years when in the third tier of world ice hockey.

GB are playing in their second successive elite-level tournament after avoiding relegation in Slovakia in 2019 by coming from 3-0 down to beat France 4-3 in overtime.

This came on the back of successive promotions in Belfast in 2017 and Budapest in 2018, as GB went from Division I Group B to the top level in two years.

But Pete Russell’s side had to endure two heartbreaking last-day defeats in gold-medal games in 2015 and 2016 – and Richardson believes these losses spurred GB to the heights they have hit now.

“There have been some low points such as when we were not promoted for a couple of years,” said Richardson.

“But I think that actually helped us to grow as a team and to put the foundations down to get to where we are today.”

GB began this year’s Group A campaign at the Olympic Sports Centre in Riga with a 7-1 defeat by Russia, who are ranked second in the world – and then produced a fantastic performance in a narrow 2-1 defeat by Slovakia on Sunday.

They return to action against Denmark tomorrow afternoon (2:15pm UK time) and Richardson is well aware of the treat the Danes will pose.

“They are a very solid team all round,” said Richardson. “We are going to have to be at our best to give ourselves a chance.

“So far we have given a very good account of ourselves and we plan to keep improving.

“A huge part of playing at this level is minimising mistakes. These teams don’t need much help but as soon as you make a mistake, it usually ends up in the back of the net.

“After last time’s experience with some really heavy defeats, it’s our aim to keep the games closer to give ourselves a chance and against Slovakia we did that.”

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.

IIHF 2021 World Championship – GB results 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)