Great Britain produced a spirited performance in their opening game at the World Championship in Tampere, but were beaten 5-1 by Czechia who are ranked seventh in the world.
Ben Lake scored his second international goal, while Cade Neilson and Josh Waller made their debuts and became the 424th and 425th players to represent their country.
Strong first period for GB
GB had the game’s first real chance as Waller was denied on the breakaway by Lukas Dostal’s right pad, while Robert Dowd also went close at the backdoor.
At the other end, Ben Bowns made a huge pad save from Tomas Hertl’s shot from the slot. GB ended the period strong and Lake had two chances in quick succession.
Czechia lead despite more GB pressure
Bowns came up big to stop Jiri Cernock on a breakaway but Czechia went ahead when Matej Blumel finished off a well-worked move through the five-hole (27:09).
Neilson hit the post on the next shift and Robert Dowd went close, before Jakub Flek tipped in Jan Scotka’s shot for Czechia’s second (32:24).
Still GB kept pressing and Evan Mosey just failed to convert on the doorstep on the powerplay.
Lake scores GB consolation
David Jiricek’s one-timer on the powerplay took a deflection past Bowns as Czechia opened up a three-goal lead (41:11).
Cernoch scored on the rebound (46:43) and Matej Blumel finished off a two-on-one break (48:28), but GB kept pushing and got the reward their performance deserved.
Scott Conway sent Lake free who produced a superb backhand finish on the breakaway (50:53).
Russell: We showed a lot of heart
GB Head Coach, Pete Russell, said: “I thought we showed a lot of heart. Our structure was good. We battled and competed.
“We had some chances, especially early on and could have put a couple of them away.
“It is something for sure to give the guys confidence that they can play with speed at this level.
“I thought we played really well. We can’t be happy and it’s tough to say that. We want to stay at this level.
“We need to build on it. I thought the guys were fantastic and we need to build on it.”
GB return to action tomorrow as they play Norway at 12:20 (10:20 UK time).