OLYMPIC PRE-QUALIFIER GROUP G
GREAT BRITAIN MEN 6-5 NETHERLANDS MEN
GREAT BRITAIN began their bid to qualify for the 2018 Winter Olympics with a thrilling 6-5 victory over Netherlands in the pre-qualifiers Group G in Cortina.
GB still have to face Serbia and hosts Italy, with the only the group winners progressing to the final qualifying stage.
Great Britain’s bid to reach their first Olympics since 1948 got off to the worst possible start.
Netherlands, who were relegated from Division 1B of the World Championship last year, took the lead at 2:57 when Ronald Wurm popped a rebound past Ben Bowns.
But GB were only behind for 38 seconds as Russ Cowley made a great backhand-forehand move on netminder Martijn Oosterwijk to level (3:35).
After killing off a string of penalties, David Phillips put GB ahead with a shot through traffic from right point for a 2-1 first-period lead (17:12).
Matthew Myers slid the puck under Oosterwijk on the doorstep at 28:23 but Netherlands hit back with two goals in 55 seconds.
Kevin Bruijsten fired top shelf from a tight angle (33:06), while Maarten Brekelmans touched the puck past Bowns after a massive scramble in front (34:01).
Ashley Tait set up Russ Cowley to tip in his second of the afternoon at 36:01 to give GB a one-goal advantage at the second intermission.
Netherlands refused to lie down and Bruijsten’s sweet finish from the slot made it 4-4 at 43:22.
A great screen on the powerplay by Matthew Myers saw Colin Shields score from left point for his 33rd international goal and go joint-second in GB’s all-time scoring charts.
Netherlands seemed to be getting at least a point when Diederick Hagemeijer was left alone to find room to fire past Bowns to tie the game at five (51:18).
But GB’s game-winner came from defenceman Mark Richardson, who was allowed space and he put away his own rebound at 55:48.
Coach, Pete Russell, said: “I am not going to be disappointed with the outcome as the result was the important thing.
“Yes, there are things we can work on and do better at, but getting that win is vital for us.
“We dug deep and we scored a lot of goals.
“I hear people say that GB struggle to score goals, but here we proved we can score and score at important times.
“We can now recharge of our batteries and get ready for our second game.”
GB’s second game is against Serbia on Saturday and the match faces-off at 5pm local time (4pm UK time).
Report courtesy of Ice Hockey UK