Great Britain were beaten 4-1 by Sweden in Group A of the World Championship in Latvia.
Liam Kirk scored his fifth goal of the World Championship to go one clear at the top of the goalscoring charts – and Matthew Myers was named captain for the game on the special occasion of his 100th cap.
Ben Bowns got his fourth successive start in goal, while Mark Garside and Sam Duggan returned to the line-up replacing Dallas Ehrhardt and Ciaran Long.
Kirk on target again as GB hold Sweden in first period
Bowns made a good early save to deny Par Lindholm from the slot before GB went ahead. With Brendan Connolly driving the net, Kirk’s pass was deflected into the net by a Swedish defenceman (7:20).
Sweden hit back on the powerplay when Marcus Sorensen netted at the backdoor to finish off a crisp, well-worked move at 15:18.
Sweden step it up in second period
Bowns pulled off two superb point-blank saves as Sweden applied early pressure in the second period, but he could do nothing to stop Jonathan Pudas’ quality top-shelf finish from the left circle (27:00).
Mario Kempe scored Sweden’s third with a great finish from the slot at 32:08, but Bowns continued to keep the game close with a string of fine saves as he faced 22 shots in the second session.
At the other end, Ben O’Connor’s shot from left point was saved while Robert Dowd and Mike Hammond also went close.
Kempe scores his second as Sweden see the game out
O’Connor, Kirk and Hammond had chances in the third session as GB kept battling to find a way back into the game.
But Sweden made the game safe when Kempe netted his second, putting away his own rebound on the goal-line (52:34).
Co-coach, Corey Neilson, said: “I am incredibly proud of the players for their output today. Sweden are a great hockey nation and one of the top teams in the world.
“Over the past few years we have got better in so many areas. We are learning to work ourselves out of problems with the puck, which I was very impressed with.
“We found some really positives solutions to get away from their relentless pressure today.
“Give the players all the credit in the world. For them to be able to process as fast as they did in their minds to do some of the stuff we did – and to create as much as they did – we are happy.”
GB are straight back into action tomorrow as they face Czech Republic (10:15am UK time face-off).
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 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 4-1 Great Britain – Goal: Liam Kirk
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.