Great Britain face a one-game shootout against France in their bid for top tier survival at the World Ice Hockey Championships.
France lost 3-0 against Finland on Sunday and now play GB in a fixture which is crucial to both teams.
“It’s going to be a war,” said French goaltender Florian Hardy, who plays club hockey for Angers.
“It’s a huge game against Britain.
“We’re not that happy with the result against the Finns because we need points to stay in this group.
“Now we’ll have to do it against Britain.
“Finland are a good team. They play hard, skate fast, shoot hard. It was a tough game, and we can’t really compare with them in those areas.”
France must beat Britain (in regulation, overtime, or shootout) to avoid relegation.
GB must win to move up to seventh in the group. If that does, they will stay up and send the French to Division One Group A for 2020.
Captain Jonathan Phillips and his GB team have lost all six group matches so far, while France have earned one point from their fixtures.
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Monday afternoon’s match at the Steel Arena gives GB the chance to stay among the World’s best teams. A win would keep Britain up and send France down.
Cardiff Devils netminder Ben Bowns is in the GB spotlight. He was busiest on Wednesday when he stopped 59 of 65 shots against the USA, and after Saturday’s action against Finland, Bowns is far and away the tournament leader with 197 saves.
“I prefer it that way,” said Bowns. “That might seem a bit strange, but you don’t have to think about things.
“You react, anticipate, and I’ve felt pretty good so far. This has been a lot of fun.”
As a team, Italy has faced the most shots of all those in the tournament. Andreas Bernard, who has started four of Italy’s six games, is second in saves with 156.
French goaltender Florian Hardy completes the podium with 122 saves in four starts.
Last year, Korea goaltender Matt Dalton faced 258 shots and made 219 saves.
If Bowns makes 23 saves on Monday against France, he will eclipse that total.
The top five single-tournament netminder saves totals in the 21st century:
232: Ondrej Pavelec (2011) and Stebastian Dahm (2016)
Sebastian Dahm, who played every minute in goal for Denm
ark’s first four games this year in Kosice and currently ranks seventh in saves with 101, is no stranger to a heavy workload.
During 2016 in Russia, he faced a massive amount of shots but held down the fort well enough to make 232 saves and get his team into the quarter-finals, where they fell 5-1 to Finland 5-1.
In Slovakia during 2011, the Czech Republic rode the goaltending of Ondrej Pavelec to a bronze medal.
He stopped 232 shots in nine games. His most impressive outing that year might have been a 4-0 quarter-final shutout win over the USA, in which he made 29 saves.
Pavelec’s performance came just a year after Tomas Vokoun backstopped the Czechs to a gold medal in Germany, with Vokoun making 221 total saves.
233: Edgars Masalskis (2009)
The Latvian made 233 saves over eight game in 2009 during Switzerland,
238: Lars Haugen (2011)
Norway’s goalie stopped 238 shots in six games.
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256: Milan Hnilicka (2001)
Czech goaltender Hlinicka had to endure in 2001 helped his team win gold, one of the biggest single-tournament performances ever at a World Championship.
Hnilicka was named the tournament’s Best Goalkeeper and voted to the Media All-Star Team.
Surprisingly, though, he wasn’t named MVP, taking a back seat to teammate David Moravec, who scored the tournament-winning goal in overtime against Finland.
In terms of single games, the 65 shots Bowns faced against USA is tied for fourth all-time.