Sheffield Steelers’ Ben O’Connor triggered a sensational comeback for Great Britain in the world championships (Division 1B) ) in Eindhoven.
GB were trailing 2-0 to Croatia until the defenceman rattled in a power play goal with seven minutes remaining.
It set the scene for a desperate last stand, leading to an equaliser, and overtime winner.
It was Croatia who took the lead at 16:57 with Michael Glumac beating Swinton’s Ben Bowns on a short-handed play. GB looked in terrible trouble in this opening match when Nathan Perkovich made it 2-0. But O’Connor’s shot - one of six from the Sheffield man - got Peter Russell’s side back in it.
And with five seconds remaining, Cardiff Devils’ Mark Richardson levelled. Richardson stole the (3-2) winner 11 seconds into overtime.
Former Steeler Chris Blight, and Doncaster-born Matt Haywood were among five skaters making their debuts.
Coach Peter Russell said: “I never stopped believing - neither did they. I am proud of them. I asked for passion, for work ethic and I got that. They fully deserve this victory.”
He added: “Of course we have areas to work on and things to improve, but this was a massive performance today. We held our nerve and that was key - and we reaped the rewards with this win.”
Steeler Rob Dowd added: “We have such a great spirit in this side and it showed with that dramatic finish.
“We always believed we could win and the key was not to panic.
“We played well all game and deserved something from it - and it was fantastic with the way we won that game.
“The whole squad had faith in each other. We have a close bond in that room and it is times like this that you need it.”
“We must not take Estonia lightly one bit. Any game in a World Championship tournament is tough. They will pose different challenges to Croatia and we must be on our game to keep them at bay.”
GB return to action tomorrow when they face Estonia (12:30pm UK time).