Great Britain produced a superb battling performance against the world’s number one side Canada in a narrow 4-2 defeat in their opening game at the World Championship in-front of a crowd of 16,935 people at the O2 Arena in Prague.

GB stunned the Canadians with Liam Kirk’s opener and the teams were level at 1-1 at the first intermission, before last year’s number one NHL Draft Pick Connor Bedard scored twice in the second period as Canada finally took control.

Ben O’Connor scored a superb goal in the third period as GB made Canada work hard for the three points.

Jackson Whistle got the start in goal with Ben Bowns as back-up, while Cole Shudra made his first World Championship appearance.

GB level with Canada after first period
GB thought they’d taken an early lead when Kirk won the puck and circled out in-front before firing past Joel Hofer, but a penalty was called on the play for goaltender interference.

It didn’t put Britain off their stride and Kirk sent a bullet from the slot on the powerplay for the first goal of the afternoon (7:47).

Canada hit straight back to equalise with Michael Bunting’s shot through traffic from left-point (8:17).

The Canadians dominated much of the rest of the period with Whistle making a number of big saves while at the other end, Nathanael Halbert was denied by Hofer.

Bedard scores twice as Canada lead by three at second intermission
Brandon Hagel scored a stunning goal to put Canada ahead as he slammed the puck past Whistle on the half-volley (25:45).

GB ran Canada ragged on a powerplay with three chances for Kirk and two for Robert Dowd, but Canada scored their third when Bedard fired across Whistle (31:39).

Good build-up play and a superb feed from Nick Paul set-up Bedard for his second of the game (35:29), before GB went close when Cade Neilson fed Dowd at the backdoor but his shot was saved.

O’Connor scores stunner for GB’s second 
Kirk set-up O’Connor who pulled a sweet move to beat his man and fire past Hofer for GB’s second (48:49).

Dowd had a late chance and GB lifted Whistle for the extra skater, but Canada held firm to secure the three points.

Head Coach, Pete Russell, said: “Canada are a great team and stacked with talent.

“Without the puck, we were really good. I thought we showed a high compete level and we had a great structure.

“Our powerplay was good and our penalty-kill was 100 per cent. That will give the guys some great belief for the rest of the tournament.”

GB are straight back into action tomorrow against the world’s number two seeds Finland at 12:20 (11:20 UK time).

Great Britain World Championship schedule
Saturday 11th May – Great Britain 2-4 Canada. Goals: Liam Kirk, Ben O’Connor
Sunday 12th May – Finland v Great Britain – 12:20 (11:20 UK)
Wednesday 15th May – Switzerland v Great Britain – 20:20 (19:20 UK)
Friday 17th May – Great Britain v Denmark – 16:20 (15:20 UK)
Saturday 18th May – Czechia v Great Britain – 20:20 (19:20 UK)
Monday 20th May – Great Britain v Norway – 16:20 (15:20 UK)
Tuesday 21st May – Austria v Great Britain – 12:20 (11:20 UK)