GB v Czechia: Former Steelers star takes positives from World Championship defeat

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"They’re a top-five nation and we showed we can play with them at times”

Former Sheffield Steelers' defenceman Ben O'Connor took the positives out of Great Britain's 4-1 defeat by Czechia, in their fifth game at the World Championship in the O2 Arena in Prague.

GB competed hard against the eighth-best team in the world, with another ex-Sheffield skater Evan Mosey scoring in the second period, but the home side proved too strong, outshooting the Brits 45-15.

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Robert Dowd tries to block a shot. Pic: Dean WoolleyRobert Dowd tries to block a shot. Pic: Dean Woolley
Robert Dowd tries to block a shot. Pic: Dean Woolley | Dean Woolley

"They came out flying and we were a little flat-footed," admitted O'Connor.

"They got two quick goals and that really woke us up, but after that I thought we did well.

"They’re a top-five nation and we showed we can play with them at times."

GB have lost all five of their games so far, but are still hopeful of claiming victories in the remaining fixtures against Norway and Austria.

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Sheffield's Sam Jones in the heat of battle. Pic: Dean WoolleySheffield's Sam Jones in the heat of battle. Pic: Dean Woolley
Sheffield's Sam Jones in the heat of battle. Pic: Dean Woolley | Dean Woolley

Steeler Sam Jones returned to the line-up on Saturday, while team-mate Cole Shudra sat out.

The Lions had chances through Liam Kirk, Robert Dowd and Sean Norris, but they couldn't claw back into contention as Czechia returned to the top of Group A with 15 points from six matches.

Friday's 4-3 GB defeat at the hands of 11th seeds Denmark - goals coming from Kirk, Cade Neilson and Nathanael Halbert - almost reduced coach Pete Russell to tears.

He said: "I'm really proud of the team. They just made me nearly cry if I'm honest. We just played a really good hockey team and played them off the ice in some situations.

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Ex Steelers Ben O'Connor and Liam Kirk have time for a natter. Pic: Dean WoolleyEx Steelers Ben O'Connor and Liam Kirk have time for a natter. Pic: Dean Woolley
Ex Steelers Ben O'Connor and Liam Kirk have time for a natter. Pic: Dean Woolley | Dean Woolley

"That's one of the best performances we've ever had since I have been coaching this team. We had huge energy and managed to bring so much momentum to the game.

"We had so many chances and their goalie was unbelievable. It just shows you what this team can do. Everyone connected with GB and the whole country should be so proud of that performance.”

Great Britain World Championship schedule and results

Saturday 11th May – Great Britain 2-4 Canada – Goals: Liam Kirk, Ben O’Connor

Sunday 12th May – Finland 8-0 Great Britain

Wednesday 15th May – Switzerland 3-0 Great Britain

Friday 17th May – Great Britain 3-4 Denmark – Goals: Liam Kirk, Cade Neilson, Nathanael Halbert

Saturday 18th May – Czechia 4-1 Great Britain – Goal: Evan Mosey

Monday 20th May – Great Britain v Norway – 16:20 (15:20 UK)

Tuesday 21st May – Austria v Great Britain – 12:20 (11:20 UK)

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