Gallant GB seal World Championship survival

Gallant GB seal World Championship survival

20 May 2019 / 17:20

There's little danger of Ben Davies forgetting his winning goal against France anytime soon after his overtime clincher kept Great Britain in the big time.

After 15 years in the wilderness, GB returned to the top tier of the World Hockey Championships for the first time since 1994 this month.

However, having slipped to six straight defeats, Pete Russell’s troops heroically roared back from 3-0 down to leapfrog the French into seventh in the standings, Davies’ overtime goal capping a herculean 4-3 comeback.

“I definitely haven’t [scored a more important goal],” said 28-year-old Davies, whose side won promotion from Division One of the World Championships in Hungary, in 2018.

“It was pretty surreal. It was unbelievable. I’ll remember that forever.

“We stuck with it, got some big goals and took it to overtime – Bownsy [netminder Ben Bowns] made some incredible saves.

“That’s just not our character. Last year, we were 2-0 down with 10 minutes to go and we pulled it out of the bag and got the gold medal [in Hungary], so it’s similar this year.

“We pressured them as much as we could and we got some chances, and they started going in for us.

“We all play against each other throughout the year but everyone looks forward to the international duty at the end of the season, and we’ve got a very tight-knit bunch of guys.

“We’ve had some tough games and the boys have been sticking with us, so we’re going to enjoy this one.”

Inside the opening minutes, GB netminder Bowns saved well from Aleandre Texier and in a flash, Davies streaked down the ice towards goal but let France off the hook as he opted to cut the puck backwards, rather than let fly.

Liam Kirk also hit the base of the post as GB continued to turn the screw but early in the second period France got their noses in front, Anthony Rech slamming a fearsome effort into the top corner of the net.

They then surged into the ascendancy, scoring twice in the space of six seconds – first, Sacha Treille got the final touch on Florian Chakiachvili’s strike on the powerplay before Rech popped up with his second of the game to make it 3-0.

But GB were far from dead and buried.

Robert Dowd chipped away at the deficit with an accomplished finish before Mike Hammond reacted quickest to score from close-range to haul his team to within a single goal.

And in the third and final period, Russell’s men got their equaliser, Robert Farmer dancing his way towards the right-hand side of the pipes and slotting away to make it 3-3.

GB’s fate would be decided in overtime and the men in white rose to the occasion, completing their comeback and breaking French hearts courtesy of Davies, who kept his composure to slip the puck into the net past netminder Florian Hardy to kick off the celebrations.

Sportsbeat 2019

Ice hockey