MATCH REPORT: BELARUS 3-4 GREAT BRITAIN

Great Britain produced another stunning performance as they beat Belarus 4-3 in the Group A of the World Championship in Latvia.

Liam Kirk scored twice to take his tally to the tournament to four, while Ben Davies and Mike Hammond were also on target on another famous night for British ice hockey.

Dallas Ehrhardt and Lewis Hook returned to the line-up, replacing Sam Jones and Ross Venus, while Ben Bowns got his third successive start.

Kirk’s third goal of the tournament gives GB first-period lead
Belarus had the best chances of the opening stages as Francis Pare hit the bar and Sergei Drozd fired wide, before GB took control of the period as Ehrhardt, Brendan Connolly and Ben O’Connor all went close.

Kirk gave GB the lead at 13:38 when he cut across his man at speed and went five-hole under Plymouth-born Belarus netminder Danny Taylor.

GB score twice in 89 seconds to increase lead
Belarus equalised moments after their powerplay came to end, as Vladislav Kodola mopped up a rebound from close range on his backhand (29:15).

GB scored twice in 89 seconds to take a two-goal lead to the intermission. A good forecheck by Jonathan Phillips was followed by Matthew Myers forcing a turnover and feeding Davies who slid the puck low past Taylor for his fourth international goal (37:06).

And that was quickly followed by Robert Dowd’s cross-ice pass finding O’Connor left-hand side, who fed Kirk and the youngster controlled the puck before firing into the top right-hand corner (38:35).

Hammond on target as GB secure win despite Belarus fightback
Hammond made it 4-1 with a sweet finish as he cut inside two and fired past Taylor for his second goal of the tournament (48:41).

Belarus upped the pressure in the third and nice-worked move resulted in Geoff Platt firing home at the backdoor (51:19) to reduce the arrears to two.

Shane Prince scored with a low shot from the slot just after a Belarus powerplay (57:43) to make it a one-goal game going into the closing stages, but GB stayed firm for a famous victory.

Co-coach, Adam Keefe, said: “The players’ passion, desire and courage to do the things they need to do to win is remarkable. The confidence comes from the room and the special bond they have.

“This was a fantastic performance against a very good team. We knew as a coaching staff and we believe in these players if they keep playing that way they will get their moment – and this is their moment.

“Everything that is happening to them right now is well deserved and well earned and all the credit in the world goes to each and every one of those players.

“If they compete like that night in, night out, they are going to be in every game – not just Belarus and Denmark, but teams like Sweden and Czech Republic.”

GB return to action on Friday when they face Sweden at 14:15 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 2-3 Denmark (overtime) – Goals: Ben O’Connor, Mike Hammond
Wednesday 26th May – Belarus 3-4 Great Britain – Goals: Liam Kirk 2, Ben Davies, Mike Hammond 
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.