Great Britain stun Slovenia in World Championship opener

Great Britain began their World Championship Division 1A campaign with a 3-1 victory over top seeds Slovenia in Budapest on Sunday.

Slovenia, who are ranked 15th in the world, played in the Winter Olympics in Korea earlier this year, but they were no match for GB who produced one of their most memorable performances in the last decade.

Brett Perlini scored his first GB goal on his World Championship debut, while there were also goals for Ben O’Connor and Robert Dowd.

GB made a strong start in the first period and their early pressure resulted in a powerplay goal for O’Connor in the sixth minute.

Slovenia equalised after 12 minutes with a neat finish from Blaz Gregorc in the slot to level the game at 1-1 at the first intermission.

Netminder Ben Bowns had to be at his best to keep out shots from Rok Ticar and Jan Urbas on the powerplay, while at the other end Matthew Myers shot just wide of the right-hand post.

GB ensured a second-period lead as Dowd neatly batted the puck out of the air from close range just as a powerplay had come to an end after 36 minutes.

Britain stretched their lead to 3-1 with a nearly-worked goal with a man advantage, as O’Connor and Mike Hammond set up Perlini on the doorstep five minutes into the final session.

Slovenia stepped it up in the closing stages as Anze Kuralt hit the inside of the right-hand post and Bowns pulled off a good save from Ticar, but GB stayed firm for an historic win.

Head coach, Pete Russell, said: “That was very special indeed. To beat a side who played in the Olympics this year is a fantastic achievement.

“The boys gave it everything and put it all on the line. I am very proud of them. We were outstanding all across the ice – they were real heroes out there.

“This a great start but we must not get ahead of ourselves and we still have four massive games to come.”

Forward Colin Shields believes Great Britain’s stunning win provides the perfect platform for the rest of the tournament in Budapest.

“This is a superb result and we can take so much momentum from it for the tournament,” said Shields.

“It will give us confidence going into the rest of the games as they certainly won’t get any easier.

“However, we won’t get carried away. It is great to beat the top seeds, but there is a lot of work still to be done and we have to stay grounded.

“It was very much a new-look squad from last year in Belfast, but the new guys slotted in as though they’d been with GB for years.

“Nobody was overawed by the occasion and we played a top-class game against one of the best nations in the world.

GB are back in action on Tuesday when they face Kazakhstan (3.00pm UK time).

(Image permission: Dean Woolley)