World Championship: Great Britain defeat Croatia 4-2 in Belfast opener

Highlights: Croatia 2-4 Great Britain

Great Britain made a winning start to their World Championship Division 1B campaign in Belfast as they battled to a 4-2 victory over Croatia.

Playing on home ice in a world championship tournament for the first time since 1992, GB took a first-period lead as Robert Dowd blasted to the net.

Mislav Blagus levelled for Croatia before goals for the hosts from David Clarke and Evan Mosey.

David Brine replied for Croatia before Russell Crowley hit GB's fourth goal.

Only the winners in the six-team round-robin tournament at the SSE Arena will be promoted.

GB coach Russell pleased with opening win

Great Britain head coach Pete Russell was pleased with his team's opening win.

"It's a good start. It's all we wanted," Russell told BBC Five Live.

"They are a decent team and we maybe made it hard work for ourselves at times.

"We got a bit flat in the second period but we bossed that final period and got the win we wanted."

The Croatians included Vancouver Canucks NHL player Borna Rendulic but after his impressive first period, he was well contained by the hosts for the remainder of the game.

Russell handed British debuts to Brendan Brooks, 18-year-old Sam Duggan and Liam Stewart.

The Great Britain team received great support at the SSE Arena
A large Belfast crowd turned up to watch Great Britain's opener

Top seeds Japan opened their campaign with an emphatic 6-1 win over the Netherlands while Estonia and Lithuania are also competing in Belfast.

The competition winners will qualify for next year's Division 1 Group A with the top two from that tournament advancing to the top tier of the 2019 World Championships.

Great Britain have narrowly missed out on promotion following second-place finishes in the third-tier competition in the last two years.

The hosts are back in action against Estonia on Monday evening.

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