Ice Hockey World Championship: Great Britain stay in top flight after overtime win

Ben Davies scores Britain's winner
Davies with the winning strike for Britain in overtime

Great Britain came from 3-0 down to retain their World Championship top-flight status with a dramatic 4-3 overtime win against France.

Having lost their first six matches in Slovakia, Monday's match was a winner-takes-all encounter for survival.

France scored twice in six seconds to lead 3-0 in the 28th minute in Kosice.

But Robert Farmer equalised to take the match to extra time and Ben Davies grabbed the winner in added time to keep Britain up and send France out.

Britain pulled the first goal back in the 35th minute when Robert Dowd finished neatly after a pass from Ben O'Connor.

Three minutes later O'Connor's shot was parried and Mike Hammond converted the rebound for his fourth goal of the tournament.

And in the 46th-minute Farmer brought Britain back on level terms with a shot high into the net.

Britain goaltender Ben Bowns made some crucial saves in the extended period before Davies gathered a pass from Jonathan Phillips and scored past Florian Hardy to spark wild celebrations.

The British team had secured promotion back into ice hockey's elite level for the first time since 1994 with a memorable overtime win against Hungary in Budapest last year.

Ranked 22nd in the world, they were the lowest-rated side in the competition and their campaign began in difficult fashion, with 38 goals conceded in their opening six matches and only five scored.

But Monday's match produced some terrific entertainment and Davies' goal ensured Britain of a place in the 2020 World Championship in Switzerland, condemning France, ranked nine places higher, to Division 1A.

Britain's last experience at the highest level 25 years ago saw them fail to register a point in their five matches.

However, their victory on Monday means they will participate at the highest level in successive years for the first time since 1951.

It also relegates France for the first time since 2004, ending their run of 12 consecutive appearances in the highest bracket.

Analysis

BBC Sport reporter Seth Bennett in Slovakia

I am not sure who writes the scripts for this group of players, but it was a sensational ending to what has been a really tough tournament.

After losing six in a row the players showed incredible mental fortitude not to just chuck the tools in and start thinking about life in the second tier.

Staying up was so important to this group and they celebrated it every bit as excitedly as any medal they have won to date.

Qualifying for the Olympics will be the biggest game-changer for British ice hockey long term. The increased exposure for the players, the sport and domestic Elite League would lead to increased investment that the sport has never really had.

I am of course jumping a long way forward because that is still a million miles away despite their results here in Slovakia. That said, playing in the top flight, learning how to skate and play with the best in the world will bring that impossible dream a little bit closer.

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