Two games down now and Team GB are sitting in 4th place in the IIHF Division 1B World Championships. It’s not quite where they expected to be at this point, but hope is far from lost.
While the first game of the tournament against Croatia didn’t end the way any of us wanted, Monday’s game against Romania was a far better result.
Stephen Murphy started on Sunday in goal, ready to take on whatever Croatia could throw at him. Unfortunately, what they threw at him were shots that he just couldn’t save. Despite 9 penalties taken by Croatia, GB were unable to capitalise on any of the opportunities, even though they were out-shooting Croatia by a ratio of nearly 2:1. By the time the 4th puck slid past Murphy in the final period, Doug Christiansen pulled him and let Ben Bowns hold the fort. He managed to prevent any more goals, but the damage was already done and GB were unable to find the back of the net. The final score ended up 4-0.
Not willing to let the loss cloud their determination, GB went back out on Monday with Ben Bowns starting in goal. Doug Christiansen insisted that Bowns was always going to start game 2, and Murphy’s performance in game 1 had nothing to do with the goaltender change, but we’ll never know whether that’s the truth. For the first period, things looked like they hadn’t changed too much from the day before, as power play after power play passed by unnoticed and Romania out-shot them. Then suddenly, at the start of the second, things changed. GB took to the ice after the intermission with a new vigor, and it wasn’t long before the floodgates that had been threatening to open finally did, with a power play goal from Ben Davies (assisted by David Clarke and Robert Lachowicz). When another equal strength goal came less than 2 minutes later, this time from captain Jonathan Phillips (with assists from Danny Meyers and Mark Garside), GB fans finally had something to cheer about. With all the momentum now firmly on their side, Colin Shields pulled another PP goal for the team (this time assisted by Ben O’Connor and Robert Farmer), and GB were ahead 3-0.
Unfortunately, it was about this time that one of the commentators mentioned the word “shut-out” and jinxed Ben Bowns, who let a shot from Romania’s Otto Biro get past him with less than a minute left on the clock. Unwilling to let that stand, Mark Garside, assisted by Danny Meyers and Ben O’Connor, combined for a 4th goal only 20 seconds later, and sealed the win for GB.
After these two games, GB is on the same number of points as Lithuania, although goal differential holds them in 4th place. There are still 3 more games still to go in this tournament, and right now there is no guarantee as to who will come out on top.
GB faces Lithuania on Wednesday, and the question remains about who will be starting in goal, and whether they can hold onto the momentum that they built up on Monday.
Feel free to leave a comment here, or come chat to me on Twitter @CarolinaKaniac