Penalty issues proved to be killer for Great Britain, who watched Italy skate away with the 6-2 victory and advance to the final round of the Olympic Qualifying tournament.
The Italians were strong right off the start. While skating with the power play at the 8:15 mark, Alexander Egger tipped in a shot from Christian Borgatello, beating Ben Bowns high for the 1-0 goal.
Because Craig Peacock got a double high-sticking minor that led to the first goal, he’d have to sit for an additional two minutes. That put the British in a deep hole, as Anton Bernard was right there to capitalize on a goal-mouth scramble in front created by a huge stop by Bowns just seconds prior.
With five minutes remaining in the first period, the Italians would take the big 3-0 lead. The even strength goal from Simon Kostner put the British in an even bigger first period rut after his quick shot from the slot was too much for Bowns, giving the Italians the 3-0 lead heading into the first intermission.
Britain’s chance at a comeback looked almost impossible with four minutes to go in the second. Borgatello, who was having himself a very good game, used a screen in front to beat Bowns cleanly top corner, giving the Italians the 4-0 lead.
The British, however, would eventually find the back of the net, With 1:35 left in the second, Stephen Lee’s point shot was tipped by David Phillips in front of the net, giving the Brits some life heading into the second intermission.
The feisty British have been in a lot of tough games in their history, and they have made a habit of trying to fight back, With 15 minutes left in the game, David Clarke tipped in a shot from Ben O’Connor just in front of the crease, beating Andreas Bernard through the five-hole for the 4-2 goal with a good portion of the game still left to go.
But, a howitzer from an Italian defenseman meant that the British would continue to struggle. Alexander Gellert would score on one of the hardest shots you’ll see at this level of hockey, blistering a shot from the point that easily beat Bowns for the 5-2 goal near the mid-way point of the third. Italy would get an additional empty-netter with about 30 seconds left to give the team the 6-2 win, a big victory to close out the tournament.
With the win, Italy will head off to Minsk, Belarus for the final round of the Olympic Qualifiers, set to take place from September 1st-4th. Earlier on Sunday, Japan and Poland both won their respective tournaments to earn promotion to the other two final tournaments. The winners of all three groups will play in the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, a tournament that could be interesting with no confirmed NHL involvement as of yet.
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