Great Britain missed out on a medal at the Division 1 Group B tournament in Riga, going down 3-2 to the host nation in a thrilling encounter.

GB and Latvia went into the game tied on 7 points, each looking to eclipse Italy (9 points) and take a silver medal. Slovakia had earlier taken gold with four wins from their five games.

Britain started well and Lizzie Saunders scored her first senior goal just over two minutes in, Casey Traill and Steph Towns getting the assists.

Katie Marsden’s interference penalty broke up a Latvia counter attack, but on the resulting powerplay just two seconds were remaining in the player advantage when Emilija Jakovleva poked home a rebound after Nicole Jackson’s first save.

GB had to kill a five on three powerplay early in the middle period but the special teams were outstanding in the face of Latvia pressure.

The hosts did take the lead in the 34th minute on a penalty shot. Casey Traill’s diving attempt to stop a breakaway caught a Latvian skate and the referee signalled penalty shot. Liga Miljone took the shot and scored with a backhand finish high into the net.

It took Great Britain less than a minute to respond. Jodie Alderson-Smith and Charlotte Harris set up Katie Marsden to score her second goal of the week setting up a grandstand third period.

The Volvo Sportcenter, home of the tournament in Riga, was jumping with large home crowd but the GB Barmy Army had their corner and were making themselves heard in support of their team.

The teams exchanged powerplays at the start of the third period, and Latvia took advantage with Linda Rulle’s shot from the right circle finding the top corner at 43.50 and giving the hosts the lead for good.

Further special teams play followed and GB outshot Latvia 21-7 in the final frame as they pressed for an equaliser. Despite lifting Nicole Jackson for an extra attacker in the final minute, Latvia held out to the delight of the home crowd and took the silver medal overall.

Great Britain finished on seven points, three more than in Korea last year, and in fourth place in the table.

Head coach Mike Clancy spoke post-game and said: “I can’t fault the effort of anyone tonight, they gave absolutely everything and stuck to our systems throughout. Sometimes you don’t get the bounces or the rub of the green. But we’ve shown we can compete in this division and will use this as a learning experience – as we did after Korea – to come back stronger again next year.”

Beth Hill was player of the game. GB’s player of the tournament was Laura Horwood.

The GB Supporters Club also voted for their player of the tournament. In third place was Ellin Rees, in second place was Jodie Alderson-Smith and GBSC Player of the Tournament was Katie Marsden.

The players would like to thank all supporters for making the trip to Riga and be the fans in the stands and make noise throughout their games.

Photo credit: Karl Denham