Ice hockey: Sheffield Steeler Ben defends winning Great Britain team mates

Ben O'Connor in action at Eindovhen. Photo by Colin Lawson'
Ben O'Connor in action at Eindovhen. Photo by Colin Lawson'
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Ben O’Connor defended his Great Britain team after they struggled but eventually overcame unexpectedly tricky opposition in Estonia, 2-1, in the world championships (Division 1B) in Holland.

It took a last gasp-goal from Nottingham Panthers’ former Sheffield winger Robert Farmer to seal the win.

Sheffield Steelers defenceman Ben O'Connor

Sheffield Steelers defenceman Ben O'Connor

Steelers’ d-man O’Connor said: “A good team always find a way to win. Whether it’s with 5-1 or 2-1, that doesn’t matter, a win is a win.”

Farmer flipped in a rebound winner over Estonia goaltender Roman Shumikhin at 54;10.

But it has been a difficult afternoon for Peter Russell’s side.

Both teams squandered early chances yet the Baltic side looked most comfortable.

Robert Rooba outskated former Steeler Colin Shields on a short-handed breakaway and the Great Britain forward could only stop the forward via a hook. The resulting penalty shot was missed by Rooba, who plays for Espoo Blues in Finland.

He managed to round Swinton’s Ben Bowns but could not execute. It was a let-off.

At 15:36, Belfast Giant David Philips gave GB the lead when his slapshot from just inside the face-off circle flew over the stick hand of goaltender Shumikhin who seemed to get a clear view on the puck.

To the delight of the crowd, Phillips later on delivered a thundering, yet clean, check on Roman Andrejev on the blue line that sent the Estonian flying.

But Estonia hit back.

In a second period in which they outshot Great Britain 14-9 they levelled. Initially Bowns was able to show his quick glove hand on an Andrei Markov shot, but a few minutes later he stood no chance when Rooba punished a poor defensive clearance by O’Connor.

But Farmer came good with the late winner.

O’Connor said: “We certainly weren’t at our best but we pulled out a win. We weren’t pleased with some of the things we did and we will have to work on that. But the important thing was winning the game and getting a massive three points.

“We now have a day with no games before facing Korea on Thursday.

“They will be another tough team and have certainly justified so far that they are one of the favourites for promotion to Division 1A. We have to take it one game at a time still and this is what we most focus all our attention on now.”

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