GB ice hockey: Italy beaten - now for the gold medal!

GB's Dowd on the attack
GB's Dowd on the attack

Great Britain are gold medal hunting after beating a crack Italian side 4-3 in the World Championship Division 1A in Hungary.

They took the lead four times against the Italians and defended with bravery and intelligence in the exhausting later stages of a memorable game.
Sheffield Steelers' Ben O'Connor rarely seemed to be off the ice and contributed one of the weirdest goals of the
season.
But GB are now in first place as the tournament heads to the final weekend and aiming for promotion.
They had to overcome an early penalty kill with Steeler Davey Phillips punished for hooking.
And they took the lead on seven minutes when Brett Perlini scored after taking an airborne puck down and drilling it home.
But the lead lasted 22 seconds with Alex Lambacher levelling.
Steeler Robert Dowd - a 10 year GB veteran - regained the lead through the five hole for the British Lions at 8;07,
but that was neutralised by Thomas Larkin, for 2-2 at 12.30.
Nottingham Panthers dual national Perlini, on a breakaway, and Steeler Liam Kirk both had efforts on goal before the first break.
Then came a goal which had even the 400 'barmy army' travelling fans scratching their heads.
Left-hander O'Connor blasted in a freak long-range goal, from just inside Italy's half, with no screen on goalie
Andreas Bernard, at 22:10. It was his third of the tournament.
That marker led to Bernard being hauled off to be replaced by Marco de Filippo Roia.
Roia halted a Ben Davies breakaway to keep the score at 3-2 in GB's favour, then Ben Bowns showed his expertise to stop Giulio Scandella.
O'Connor, having shaken off a leg injury, was in unstoppable form roaming from deep and his first-minute third period blast hammered off the top of Italian post.
But a smart offensive play from Italy brought them level again at 45:08 - Scandella cashing in after the puck somehow whisked past Paul Swindlehurst defensive zone.
The game was anybody's, with half chances cropping up at both ends.
Yet it was Perlini who struck, forehanding high into the net from close range, for 4-3 at 48:44.
Italy ramped up the pressure on the power play but Bowns was exceptional.

GB fans will never forget this night - and an even bigger one tomorrow.

Ben O'Connor celebrates against Italy

Ben O'Connor celebrates against Italy

Swinton born goalie Ben Bowns keeps an eye on Italy. Pix: Dean Woolley

Swinton born goalie Ben Bowns keeps an eye on Italy. Pix: Dean Woolley