Great Britain brush off Canada humbling as they seek to stay in ice hockey’s elite group

Great Britain dusted themselves down on Sunday after their humbling experience at the hands of mighty Canada and got ready for one of the games that will decide their World Championships top level fate.

If GB can defeat Denmark on Tuesday or the other weaker team in this elite group in France in their final match then they will forget all about their 8-0 defeat by the best team in the world and instead create British ice hockey history.

‘For us it’s a three-team tournament and we have to go against those teams we believe we can really have a go at competing against, said Britain coach Pete Russell. 

‘Our objective is to stay in this pool and we still have a chance of that. We have to stay positive and not get too down after games like Sunday.’

On Tuesday they finally have a chance of making an impact even though a Danish team with a much greater top level pedigree who include a Stanley Cup winner in Washington Capitals forward Lars Eller will begin as firm favourites.

‘Denmark are high quality but we have to come out and play against them like we did Germany (they lost 3-1 in their opening game) and see if we can get something from it,’ said Russell, who is going to leave his club job with Glasgow Clan and take up a position in Germany.

‘If we can create chances like we did against Germany we need to take them. The guys are excited about it and believe they can stay up. There is a belief in our group but we will have to skate with them and get close to them. We can’t give the puck away.’

Russell, the Scot who has led GB to successive promotions to reach the elite level for the first time in 25 years, was realistic in his assessment of a heavy defeat against Canada that was to be expected with such a gulf between the two teams.

‘It was just a different game,’ said Russell. ‘We couldn’t get close enough to put any pressure on Canada but we were playing against 22 NHL guys with seven of them having scored 20 plus goals this season. 

‘Their collective wages were 60 million and a half this season while ours were half a million so you have to put it into perspective.

‘Sunday was the real thing. They’re the No 1 team in the world and I know some people at home might not appreciate that but there is a vast difference. We knew that and it’s such a big achievement to be here that we have to manage expectations.’

And Russell has to get used to not being in charge of a winning team. 

‘I’ve been pretty lucky since I’ve been with the national team in that we’ve always done well so it’s different not being that team anymore,’ Russell told Sportsmail.

‘That comes with getting to the top end and we have to learn how to deal with that but I just want the best for the team. If we get something out of this that would be very special and if we can stay in the group it would be one of the biggest achievements in British ice hockey history.

‘The level here is totally different. The Canadians were very respectful and commented on how hard our tam worked and never gave up which was kind of a cool thing. It was great to meet some legends.’ 

 

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