Ice hockey: Croatia 1-4 Great Britain (final)

Sheffield Steelers' Robert Dowd.
Sheffield Steelers' Robert Dowd.

Steelers’ winger Rob Dowd led Great Britain to a sparkling victory as they opened their five-game World Championship Division 1B campaign with a 4-1 win over hosts Croatia, in Zagreb.

The Sheffield forward was on fire in the first period, in particular and his work-ethic was reflected by team-mates over 60 minutes.

Great Britain coach, Pete Russell. Picture: Colin Lawson.

Great Britain coach, Pete Russell. Picture: Colin Lawson.

Dowd slammed the puck into the centre of the Croatian crossbar after ten minutes and went a step further by making it 1-0, 87 seconds later, with Sheffield team-mate Ben O’Connor staking an assist.

Pete Russell’s side’s advantage lasted less than three minutes, Mislav Blajus levelling on a 5-on-3 PP.

O’Connor didn’t endear himself to the Croatia netminder Mate Tomljenovic, smashing the puck into his mask before the first interval.

GB asst capt Dowd almost scored after the re-start. But then he turned provider when he helped steer Jonathan Weaver into a scoring position for 201 at 24;12.

A further period of puck domination delivered a third from Craig Peacock at 35:43.

O’Connor threatened to increase the lead as he skated forward for GB in the same way he does ever winter weekend at Sheffield Arena.

Colin Shields, in his 75th GB appearance banged in a glorious fourth, at 48:29. It was his 35th international strike.

* Captain Jonathan Phillips said GB supporters were “fantastic” in their opening-day win.

Phillips said: “As usual the backing from the GB supporters was just amazing.

“They never stopped chanting and it really does lift us throughout the game.

“Our fans have travelled in great numbers and it was an amazing sight to see them on the far side.

“The noise, the colour and the atmosphere was really something to behold.

“This is a great arena to play in and having our fans making so much noise is just fantastic.”

There is no rest for GB as they return straight to action today) against Estonia at 4:30pm (3:30pm UK time).

“We know we won’t get an easy ride” continued Phillips. “There are no easy games at this level.

“Estonia have a point to prove after their loss to Lithuania, so we have to expect the backlash.

“But I know we will be focused and we will be ready.”