Italy defeated Great Britain U20 4-1 in Budapest on Thursday night, a result which leaves GB bottom of the standings on goal difference.
Their final game of the tournament is against Ukraine on Saturday and the equation is simple – winner stays in this division, the loser is relegated to Division 2A.
After the stellar performance 24 hours earlier when going down to Poland in a shootout, tonight’s team couldn’t match the intensity and found themselves 3-0 down at the first interval.
Marco Marzolini had the Italians ahead just 2.14 into the contest then after the sides traded penalties, Italy doubled their lead with a power play strike from Gianluca March.
GB had their best spell of the period after this goal, including a power play but they couldn’t solve goalie Hannes Treibenreif in the Italian net – he would go on to make 32 saves from 33 shots faced in the game.
Samuel Moroder let fly with a wrist shot which beat Renny Marr in the GB net at 17.49 and put the British team in a big hole at the first interval.
GB came out strong at the start of period two, creating chances from the first puck drop. They got their reward when Jordan Buesa scored his first U20 goal from the side of the net with less than three minutes played.
An Italian penalty soon followed and GB were able to continue their revival, but once again came up against Treibenreif in top form.
The sucker punch came just past the mid point of the game, a loose puck in the GB zone was collected by David Laner and wristed into the top corner past Marr.
Their three goal margin restored, Italy absorbed the pressure GB could throw at them. Britain hit the post in the final period from Edward Knaggs, Luc Johnson was foiled by Treibenreif on a short-handed breakaway and GB did not get the bounces in front of net.
A scoreless final period meant the Italians won 4-1 and secured their Division 1B status before their final match against first-placed Poland on Saturday.
Great Britain now face a relegation shootout in the final game of the tournament on Saturday – 8pm (7pm UK) face-off against Ukraine. Both teams have just two points so whoever wins will stay in this division.
Lee Bonner was named player of the game for GB, while Hannes Treibenreif of Italy picked up their award.
After the match coach Martin Grubb said: “It’s massively disappointing, we can’t hide that. We have put ourselves in this situation and we have to find a way to get a result on Saturday.
“For whatever reason we didn’t come to play in the first period. The coaches had prepared the players, given them as much information as we could, we had a video session and nothing had changed from the day before.
“Italy have come down from the group above and regardless of their results we knew to treat them as something of a wounded animal.
“But as I said after the Poland game if we replicated our Wednesday performance tonight I’m sure we’d come out on top.
“Tonight for the majority of the game we could not and did not replicate that performance – why that was we as a staff and team need to review and find a way to put it right on Saturday.”
Friday is a rest day in the tournament before the final group matches take place on Saturday. All placings are still up for grabs, Poland will win gold with a point against Italy in the first game.
Great Britain v Ukraine is at 8pm on Saturday night (7pm UK) with coverage via TeamGBicehockey twitter account and live stream at www.sportstream.hu.
Picture credit: Duncan Speirs