Brits roll on with big win over Romania
by Andy Potts|03 MAY 2023
GB's Brett Perlini reacts after opening the scoring in the World Championship Division IA game against Romania.
photo: Adam Gouldson
Three goals in four minutes midway through the second period lifted Great Britain over a stubborn Romania to remain unbeaten in World Championship Division IA. Wednesday night’s victory means that the host nation’s promotion destiny is in its own hands: victory over Italy on Friday guarantees gold and a return to the top division.

"This was a big game for us," said defender Sam Ruopp, who scored his first World Championship goal in Britain's win. "It took us a bit to get going there, but we stuck to our systems and it seemed to work out in the end.

"It gives us a bit more confidence going into the next game."

For Romania Friday's the early game could be vital. Despite a morale-boosting win over Lithuania earlier in the tournament, the Romanians still need to take something from Poland to stay in Division IA without relying on other results.

The game’s first big chance went to Great Britain when Liam Kirk fired in a shot that went through Zoltan Toke. Nathanael Halbert was looking to stuff it home on the crease, but Pavlo Borysenko got back to clear the danger.

Halbert came close on the game’s first power play, fizzing a shot just wide of Toke’s post. However, for most of that penalty, Romania did a good job of shutting down the core and denying Britain good looks. 

Increasingly, though, Romania came into the game. If Julius Penzes’ team could not create clear chances, it did a sold job of limiting the British offence. And, on occasion, Ben Bowns was called into action – notably at the start of the second period when Matyas Kovacs got off a testing shot on a counterattack.

For long periods, the game was frustrating – especially for a home crowd anticipating a comfortable tune-up before Friday’s promotion showdown against Italy. However, once the breakthrough came it brought a scoring surge. Brett Perlini opened the scoring midway through the game when Romania’s Borysenko failed to deal with a puck lodged beside the net. Robert Dowd jumped on the chance, knocking it back to the slot where Perlini slid it home.

That woke up the home crowd and inspired Britain to search for more. A power play saw Liam Kirk demonstrate the precision and power of his wrist shot, wiring one through a tiny gap off a Halbert feed to double the lead.

And on 34:18 it was 3-0 when Jonathan Phillips – who handed over tonight’s captaincy to celebrate namesake David’s 100th GB appearance – stepped in front of Timur Rasulov to redirect a low shot from Josh Tetlow.

David Phillips paid tribute to Jonathan after the game. "It's a huge honour to wear the 'C' for this team," he said. "And it's very classy of Jono to hand it to me for my 100th game tonight. He's a great friend and a classy individual."

With the game out of Romania’s reach, the third period enabled GB to build some confidence ahead of Friday. Johnny Curran, making his World Championship debut here, potted his first international goal when he redirected an Evan Mosey shot into the net. Curran had 53 points in 54 Elite League games for Coventry this season but couldn’t immediately translate that form to the national team.

"That was big," he said. "It's nice to get that bit of pressure off your back. You always want to produce when you can, so now when there are chances Friday maybe we're not gripping our sticks so tight."

Good work from Ben Lake almost set up Ben O’Connor for a fifth goal. Instead, GB got on the power play once again and with the extra man Ruopp joined Curran in opening his World Championship account.

Toke had a busy evening in the Romanian goal, but he pulled off a spectacular glove save late in the game to rob Lake of a power play goal. However, from the subsequent face-off Mosey added a sixth and there was still time for Josh Waller to make the final score 7-0. At the other end, Bowns posted his third shut-out in four games while Britain outshot Romania 43-13 in its best performance of the competition so far.

The evening finished in a carnival atmosphere, with the Brits getting a standing ovation from the home support in Nottingham. And Ruopp is hoping for more of the same on Friday against the Italians.

"That could be huge," he said. "In these games you really hear the crowds and they've been great all week. We can see everybody coming together and it just gives us even more motivation to put that extra little bit into our game."
Great Britain vs Romania - 2023 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship Division I Group A