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  1. ITV Report

Team GB overturn deficit to stay in world’s top flight

Team GB celebrate staying in the world's top division after a dramatic overtime win against France. Credit: Dean Woolley

Team GB, who count four Belfast Giants players and staff among their ranks, have managed to hold onto their place in the top division of the World Championships against the odds.

The side had struggled to compete against the world’s elite following their historic promotion, as was to be expected, given the gulf between GB and the likes of a Canadian side stacked with NHLers.

They went into their final game against France having failed to take a single win, although the team – ranked 22 in the world - did produce some memorable moments along the way.

Those most notably included holding their own against the fourth-ranked USA, before finally being overpowered 6-3, and the performances of outstanding netminder Ben Bowns.

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Monday’s game saw GB trail 3-0 against their French opponents, only for the underdogs to come powering back.

Goals from Robert Dowd, Mike Hammond and Robert Farmer tied things up and sent the game into sudden death overtime.

Then Ben Davies proved the hero of the hour, bagging the winner and ensuring Team GB would avoid relegation.

Robert Dowd's goal got Team GB off and running against France. Credit: Dean Woolley

Head Coach Pete Russell said: “This is massive moment for the team and a massive moment in British ice hockey.

“At 3-0, we did not panic. I looked at the guys in the time-out and I knew which team was winning this game. They knew they could still do it.

“What they have just achieved is the biggest thing in their career.”

Ben Davies celebrates with Liam Kirk after scoring the game-winning goal for Team GB against France. Credit: Dean Woolley

For Belfast Giants star Colin Shields, who was among those who came close to scoring in the tense encounter with France, it seems only fitting to bow out on a high.

Having already played his last game for the Giants, he now retires from international duty as well.

He leaves the sport having won international gold medals not once, but twice – including on “home ice” when Belfast hosted the Division 1B championships in 2017.

Sheds, who has enjoyed plenty of trophy success with the Giants as well, also holds the records as top scorer for both the Giants and Team GB.

He was joined in the GB line-up for his final campaign by Giants teammate Paul Swindlehurst, while Giants Head Coach Adam Keefe serves as assistant manager and Giants long-serving equipment manager Jason ‘Taff’ Ellery continued once again in that crucial role with the international side.

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