Great Britain pushed the United States hard before eventually losing 6-3 in their fourth game at the World Championship in Kosice on Wednesday.
GB were level at 1-1 with the world’s fourth seeds at the midway point in this enthralling encounter.
Mike Hammond, Brett Perlini and Ben Davies were on target in a game that will have underlined GB’s belief that they can compete at this level.
Ben Bowns made a good pad save from Dylan Larkin inside the opening 15 seconds, before GB created some real pressure with a number of good chances.
Ben O’Connor and Evan Mosey went close on the same shift, while Ollie Betteridge saw his shot from the right wing saved and Davies’ clever attempt out of mid-air went just wide.
Perlini was then denied twice by Thatcher Demko but USA took the lead on the powerplay, as James van Riemsdyk bundled the puck over the line with assists going to Patrick Kane and Ryan Suter in the 12th minute.
GB got the goal their first-period pressure deserved as Hammond scored his second of the tournament when he put away his own rebound following Davie Phillips’ pass three minutes later.
USA regained their lead on the powerplay in the 29th minute, as Clayton Keller broke into the zone and beat Bowns with a neat finish.
Bowns had to be at his best to save Kane’s shot from the left circle, but USA scored their third through Chris Kreider from close range after 31 minutes.
Ben Lake, Matthew Myers and Davies all went close on the same shift and then Hammond and Robert Farmer had chances moments later, before Alex Debrincat scored USA’s fourth with a instinctive shot two minutes before the second buzzer.
Perlini jumped onto a loose puck in the closing stages of the period and fired low past Demko for GB’s second goal.
USA netted their fifth through’s Kane’s shot from close range after a goalmouth scramble in the 41st minute and that was added to by Derek Ryan’s backhand shot eight minutes later.
Davies broke away and found space to score with a brilliant top-shelf finish in the 56th minute, while Bowns produced a world-class save to deny Jack Hughes, who is set to be first pick in the first round in this year’s NHL draft.
Head coach, Pete Russell, said: “That performance was what GB is all about. We were fantastic. We gave one of the best teams in the world a great game and it was a performance we should be very proud of.
“Some people wrote us off after yesterday, but we showed what we can do tonight. Our supporters were amazing. Their noise and passion drove us on and they were fantastic all night.”
(Image permission: Dean Woolley)