Denmark edges GB in overtime
by Andy Potts|25 MAY 2021
photo: Chris Tanouye / HHOF-IIHF Images
Denmark posted its second victory of the tournament, bouncing back from defeat against Switzerland to see off Great Britain at the Olympic Sports Centre in Riga. However, a battling British performance forced this game all the way into overtime before Markus Lauridsen potted the winner.

"It's always tense in overtime, it's do or die, but I'm just happy we got the extra point here, that was big for us," the game-winner said. "We're not satisfied with giving up that late goal in the third period but we just have to look forward here."

As for the goal itself, Lauridsen said it was an improvised play. "Obviously, we were on the power play there, and we knew we didn't have too much time left on the clock," he added. "So we needed to get a shot off. We tried a set play and that didn't really work out. So we tried a different thing, and luckily it went in."

That left Britain seeking its first win at this championship. Once again, though, there were positives after collecting a first point of the tournament after Mike Hammond's late goal made it 2-2 in regulation.

Captain Jonathan Phillips, who marked his 100th international appearance today, had mixed feelings about his day's work: "We’re really happy that we’ve grown throughout this tournament. We said from day one at camp that we want a building process, get better every single day and keep building on those performances. So far, we’ve done that.

"After last year and losing 9-0 to Denmark, this year we’re disappointed to lose out in OT. We’re pleased to some degree but it’s going to sting.

After falling behind early in its first two games, GB changed the script here to take the lead on 2:33. Ben O’Connor was the scorer, floating in a point shot that came through traffic and beat Sebastian Dahm over the glove. It brought up a couple more minor milestones for GB: the first time the team had scored in three consecutive games at this level since 1951, and the first regulation-time lead in a game since 1962.

O’Connor had spoken before this game of ‘owing Denmark one’ after his team lost 0-9 against this opponent in Kosice two years ago. While his goal repaid the first instalment of that debt, the Danes were also out to prove a point after Sunday’s defeat against Switzerland where they were held to an all-time low of just four shots on goal. Within seven minutes, Denmark bettered that tally here and was close to tying the game when Markus Lauridsen saw the puck flip off the bar and drop onto the paint. The British defence scrambled it away before Lauridsen could reach the rebound.
Great Britain vs Denmark - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship
GBR DEN 25 MAY 2021
It wasn’t long before Ben Bowns was beaten, though. Nicklas Jensen found Julius Jakobsen and his backhand effort from the left-hand circle went over the goalie’s shoulder to tie the game. And, soon after, Denmark had the lead on its first power play of the night. The GB penalty kill got in a tangle and invited Jensen to shoot; his effort took a slight deflection off Josh Tetlow, skipped through a pair of Danish legs and snuck inside Bowns’ near post to bring Jensen his fourth goal in three games.

Jensen added an assist on the winner, moving to 7 (5+2) points and taking a lead in tournament scoring. That had Lauridsen purring about his team-mate's qualities.

"He's in my opinion one of the best players in this tournament," the D-man said. "He's an amazing player. He can skate. Good shooter, good passer. He's got the whole package. So we're happy to have him on our team here."

The tying goal was unfortunate for the 23-year-old Tetlow, in his first World Championship, who is making a name for himself as a resilient blocker of shots but could not quite get behind Jensen's effort.

However, Jensen was an injury worry early in the second period, twisting his right ankle when his skate brushed against Tetlow behind the British net. He skated gingerly to the bench but returned to the game on a power play a few minutes later.

However, the Danish offence slowed in the second period as the game became tighter. Ultimately, that played into British hands as the game remained on a knife-edge going into the closing stages. For Denmark, which kept Switzerland to a single goal despite withstanding huge pressure in its previous game, the roles were reversed. O’Connor caused panic on the crease with a shot that almost dropped for Brett Perlini to tie it up and the nerves tightened another notch.

And with less than four minutes to play, GB drew level. Mike Hammond started the play with a long, long pass to release Ben Lake into the zone. Lake showed great composure to get to the goal line and wait for support, then Hammond came steaming down the ice to receive a return pass and shoot five-hole on the exposed Dahm. It was a big moment for the Brits and one that co-coach Corey Neilson credited to the ever tighter D-core on his team.

"Teams are getting frustrated towards the end of the game because they’re getting shots but not seeing the grade A looks we were allowing in that first game," he said. "They get frustrated, they take chances and we get to play that bit of positive hockey. 

"Things get better, things get tighter. We’re keeping ourselves in positions to get things from the game."

As if in anticipation of 3-on-3 overtime, the teams finished regulation playing 4-on-4 after Nicklas Jensen and Liam Connolly got tangled in something of a rugby scrum in the corner. Denmark scored two goals on Sweden in 4-on-4 play and Matias Lassen almost got another with a stinging, angled shot on a rebound. However, with the most creative Danish players out of action – Jensen in the box, Mikkel Boedker receiving treatment after taking a puck to the side of the head – there was no repeat of that decisive action against the Swedes and the action went into the extras.

The penalties kept coming, and in the end Denmark's pressure told. There was an early power play after Frederik Storm danced through the defence and drew a desperate hook from Liam Kirk to prevent the scoring chance unfolding. GB killed one penalty, only to take another one late in the session as the underdog was forced to cling on.

"That cost us in overtime there," Phillips admitted. "It was a bit of desperation. They were getting some good looks and we felt we had to do something, take them down, take the penalty and there's only so many chances you can give them. But we're really disappointed with just the one point. We've grown as the tournament has gone on and we were really looking to take the full points there."

With just 25 seconds left on the clock, though, Denmark got its winner. Lauridsen thumped one home from the top of the right-hand circle, securing a win that was far tighter than many had expected.

"It would be disrespectful towards Great Britain if I said that I was really, really unhappy with our performance," said Denmark head coach Ehlers. "At the end of the day, we won the game. And we need to be happy that we got two points. This game could have turned out differently for us. We were a little bit lucky with some decisions in the end. Not very satisfied, besides the two points."
Great Britain vs Denmark - 2021 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship