IIHF World Championships Div 1A: Great Britain 4 Korea 0

With Poland having blanked Lithuania 7-0 in the first game of the tournament at lunchtime, while Italy skated to a 6-2 victory over Romania – buoyed by a hat-trick from their London-born defenceman Thomas Larkin – in the afternoon slot, the hosts finally got to open their account in the evening showpiece.

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And after a moment’s silence for Korea’s Cho Min-Ho, who died last summer at the age of 35, and the official opening of the tournament, the puck was dropped.

Barely two minutes had been played when GB opened the scoring, as Ben Lake and Mike Hammond swapped passes in mid-ice, before finding Josh Waller, who returned the puck for Lake to beat Korea’s Canadian-born goalie Matt Dalton from close range.

A hooking call against Heedoo Nam put GB on the powerplay but other than a couple of Ben O’Connor sighters, they could not trouble Dalton and Ben Bowns had to make his first save to deny Jin Hui Ahn with his first notable save of the night.

A good low blocker save then denied Yunsuk Lee just past the midway point of the first period, before a great burst by Robert Dowd saw him force Dalton into action to block a backhand attempt.

And Nottingham-born defenceman Nathanael Halbert managed to keep possession while on his knees, before stepping into a shooting position to test the Korea goalie again.

The advantage was doubled in the 16th minute, though, as Evan Mosey’s stretch pass found Waller to tee up Dowd for a low shot through Dalton and it was no less than the hosts deserved after a strong first frame.

They caught Korea cold just 13 seconds into the middle stanza, too, as Kirk won the puck on the left and found Cade Neilson to make it 3-0.

And Kirk went close to a goal himself with a wraparound attempt, having impressed the home fans with a spin-o-rama move on the right wing earlier on the shift.

GB were given a second powerplay chance when Sanghoon Shin – from the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators – was called for hooking just before the game’s midway point, but Korea did a good job of keeping them out of the offensive zone, aside from a Brett Perlini rush that ended with a blocked shot and a Ben O’Connor blast that Dalton kicked out.

Neilson was denied a second at close range after good work from Johnny Curran, who was making his debut alongside Halbert and Sam Ruopp, and Sam Jones saw a low shot kicked away after finding himself in space inside the blue line.

But GB were managing the game comfortably, with Bowns rarely tested in front of a three-quarter full Motorpoint Arena, but alert enough to kick out a speculative point shot towards the end of the period.

Dalton produced a good save at the other end when a Korea clearance hit an official’s skate and fell kindly for Waller, who let a quick wristshot go from close to the hashmarks but saw it well held.

And Dalton flashed his glove hand to pluck a shot from O’Connor out of the air after a good pass out of the corner from Lake.

Both sides picked up late minor penalties to leave them skating 4-on-4, but GB went on the powerplay after the restart when Kirk was caught by a high stick from Heedoo Nam.

Lake was denied by Dalton in close, with Halbert sliding the puck just wide after a long rush up ice, but GB went 4-0 up just after the powerplay expired as Kirk fired into the top corner.

The largely unemployed Bowns reacted well to hold onto a close-range redirection by Jin Kyu Park, before a tripping call against Jin Hui Ahn handed GB another powerplay and Dalton denied Mosey and Lake with a double save.

Perlini was also thwarted six just over six minutes to play, after springing into a good shooting position in front of goal, but Bowns was finally forced to scramble to protect his clean sheet, denying Sihwan Kim.

The 36-year-old Dalton remained much busier at the other end, holding onto Mark Richardson’s wristshot from the left point on his way to the man of the match award for Korea, as Kirk took the honours for GB ahead of their next assignment against Poland on Sunday (4pm).

First period
1-0 Lake (Waller, Hammond) 1.44; 2-0 Dowd (Waller, Mosey) 15.49
Penalties: Nam (K) hook 5.30.

Second period
3-0 Neilson (Kirk) 20.13 
Penalties: Shin (KOR) hook 28.45; Oh (KOR) hook 39.31; Curran (GBR) slash 39.50.

Third period
4-0 Kirk 41.35
Penalties: Nam (KOR) hi-st 40.22; Ahn (KOR) trip 48.46.

Shots on goal: Ben Bowns (GBR) 5-5-7=17-0; Matt Dalton (KOR) 5-18-12=35-3.


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