Tigers coach Tom Watkins is looking forward to next week’s World Championships with Great Britain after the national side beat Poland 5-4 in their final warm-up game on Saturday.
Watkins, who is assistant to GB Head Coach Pete Russell, saw his side snatch a dramatic overtime win at Coventry when Jack Prince scored the decisive penalty shot after overtime.
Following Friday’s defeat in Nottingham, Peter Russell brought in Luke Ferrara, Matthew Myers, Zach Sullivan and Ross Venus, while former Tiger Tom Murdy got the start in net.
Telford defenceman Jonathan Weaver, meanwhile, remains a stalwart of the Great Britain squad.
Watkins said: “It was a really good match from both sides, our performance was excellent. The result is great but as part of our World Championship preparations this is a huge step forward.
“The players showed heart and passion and came back to take the win after we’d been tied so late in the game.
“We take a couple of days off and come back on Monday night ready to build for Belfast. We’ve got a camp here for a few days before heading over so when we arrive we should be flying and ready to go.
“Everyone this weekend has staked a claim to be part of the final 23 and we have some headaches as a coaching staff before we trim the squad down.”
After an even start, Poland took the lead at 4.51 when Grzegorz Pasiut forced home a rebound from close range.
Britain levelled at the midpoint of the period, Steve Lee’s pass out of defence put Craig Peacock through and he went backhand-forehand to slide the puck into the net as goalie Radziszewski knocked the net off. As the shot was in process the goal stood and GB were level.
Parity held for less than two minutes as Poland retook the lead on a penalty shot goal. Damian Kapica was fouled on a breakaway and the player made no mistake with the penalty shot, firing a slapshot from the hashmarks past Tom Murdy.
The middle period saw Great Britain level again, Robert Farmer on hand to slam home a rebound after Brendan Brooks shot was aved.
Before the end of the period GB were ahead for the first time with a fantastic team goal. Textbook tic-tac-toe from Mark Richardson and Farmer set up captain Jonathan Phillips and he one-timed the puck home at 37.47 for a 3-2 lead at 40 minutes.
A broken play in the GB zone early in the third let Jakub Wanacki in close and his backhand shot found the net for 3-3 at 43.02.
The teams were well matched in the period and the game moved back and forth. A bad hit behind the GB net by Marcin Kolusz caused a coming together of the players, which resulted in Poland’s Zapala and Guzik along with GB’s Liam Stewart being sent to an early shower by referee Richard Magnusson.
There was more late drama as GB were operating on a 59th minute powerplay, Poland goalie Radziszewski pushed the net off as GB threatened and was penalised by referee Magnusson. As this was in the final two minutes a penalty shot was awarded to GB.
Robert Farmer skated in and waited for the goalie to commit before lifting the puck over him and into the net for a 4-3 GB lead with 53 seconds to play.
But still we weren’t done – Poland skated up the ice in the dying seconds and Chmielewski centred for Pasiut to net the game-tying goal just as time expired, official time 59.59.
The late powerplay carried into OT, so GB started with a 4-on-3 advantage. When the Poland player returned it was four on four, however the first whistle in overtime didn’t come until 4.34 of the period. Both sides had chances in a free-flowing extra session but the score remained at 4-4 and the game would be settled in penalty shots.
Robert Dowd went bar down to score for GB. Kapica and Farmer saw their efforts saved before Chmielewski netted to level the shootout after two rounds. Craig Peacock’s effort was stopped before Pasiut missed the net with the final shot. Into sudden death shots and Poland went first with Chmielewski was was stoned by Murdy.
Jack Prince – who scored the GB goal on Friday night – took the fourth Britain shot and shot low through the five hole to give GB the win and send the majority of a full house in Coventry home happy.
Great Britain’s first game in the World Championship is in Belfast on Sunday 23 April against Croatia (1600 face off).
World Championship squad:
Ben Bowns – Cardiff Devils
Stephen Murphy – Belfast Giants
Thomas Murdy – Cardiff Devils (reserve)
Mark Garside – Belfast Giants
Steve Lee – Nottingham Panthers
Ben O’Connor – Sheffield Steelers
David Phillips – Sheffield Steelers
Mark Richardson – Cardiff Devils
Paul Swindlehurst – Manchester Storm
Jonathan Weaver – Telford Tigers
Brendan Brooks – Fife Flyers
David Clarke – Nottingham Panthers
Russell Cowley – Coventry Blaze
Robert Dowd – Sheffield Steelers
Sam Duggan – Orebro (Sweden)
Robert Farmer – Nottingham Panthers
Robert Lachowicz – Nottingham Panthers
Evan Mosey – Rockford Ice Hogs (USA)
Matthew Myers – Cardiff Devils
Craig Peacock – Braehead Clan
Jonathan Phillips – Sheffield Steelers
Colin Shields – Belfast Giants
Liam Stewart – Coventry Blaze