Robert Dowd of the Sheffield Steelers to spring surprise with GB at the World Championship Yorkshire News

SURPRISE, SURPRISE: Robert Dowd of the Sheffield Steelers listens during a practice session in Riga earlier this week. Image: Dean Woolley.

Head coach Pete Russell’s team stunned the hockey world when they sealed their qualification to the top tier in 2018 with their impressive performances in Hungary.

The following year, they suffered a baptism of fire on their return to the elite for the first time in 25 years, an initial 3-1 setback against Germany followed by heavy losses to Canada, Denmark, Finland and Slovakia.

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But they produced when it mattered most, pulling off a remarkable comeback from being 3-0 down against France, drawing it and forcing the game into extra time, in which they maintained their status through the memorable winner Ben Davies.

COOLDOWN: GB players are put to the test in Riga earlier this week. Image: Dean Woolley

It was an even bigger surprise than their promotion 12 months earlier, but it was fully deserved, earning them the right to compete with the world’s best for the second year in a row.

The coronavirus pandemic ensured that the second chance at the big moment was delayed about 12 months, with last year’s tournament in Switzerland postponed and, although the odds will be against him once again, Sheffield Steelers forward Dowd, believe that they can go in the event without any fear.

“It was such a special feeling to stay awake and now we want to take advantage of that and make more progress,” Dowd said. “It’s a tough group once again, but it’s great to face different teams this year with Russia, Belarus, the Czech Republic and Switzerland in our group.

“Now we know that we belong to this level and although there is no decline this year, it is important that we do not lower our guard. We want to impress on the world’s largest ice hockey arena and I think we can deliver some surprises again. “

Sheffield Steelers and GB forward Robert Dowd. Image: Dean Woolley.

Putting aside the 9-0 loss to Denmark, Dowd believes that GB proved difficult to beat in all other games.

“Everyone got a lot out of the World Championship in Slovakia in 2019,” he added. “It really opened our eyes to what it means to play at this level.

“We all feel that we give a good account of ourselves but, at the same time, we knew that we could do better. Overall we were quite happy with our performances, but the Denmark game was probably the exception when it was a bad night at the office.

“We went up to the highest level and we competed. We play against some of the best nations in the world and we are certainly not ashamed. “

LISTEN: GB assistant coach Corey Neilson coaches GB players earlier this week at practice. He and Adam Keefe will oversee the team while head coach Pete Russell remains in the UK for family reasons. Image courtesy of Dean Woolley.

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This notice was published: 2021-05-21 05:48:46