Great Britain 4, France 3
Welshman Ben Davies was the Great Britain hero in Slovakia, scoring a sudden death overtime winner against France.
GB’s winner was scored by Cardiff-born Davies to complete a magnificent comeback from 3-0 down with almost half the match gone.
Former Bishop of Llandaff School pupil Davies, an ex-Devils forward now with Guildford, sparked major celebrations among the players and 1,000-plus GB supporters with his goal.
Cardiff Devils goalie Ben Bowns set a new World Championship record by making more saves than any other goalkeeper in the history of the competition.
Bowns stopped 230 shots during the tournament including 65 against USA.
It was the first time GB have scored four goals in a top tier match for almost 60 years, while they have never played top tier World Championship hockey in successive seasons.
Now, though, they have booked their place alongside Canada, USA, Russia, Finland and Co in Switzerland next year.
Welshman Jonathan Phillips led the magnificent GB recovery during the in Slovakia.
Cardiff-born captain Phillips and his GB team-mates staged a remarkable comeback.
Phillips was presented with a special memento to mark his 50th game as GB captain before their clash with France at the Steel Arena in Kosice.
The 36-year-old, who made his GB debut in 2003, was appointed captain for the Olympic qualifiers in the 2008-09 season.
His first World Championship as captain was the 2012 Division One campaign in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
Phillips won silver medals in Netherlands and Croatia followed the back-to-back golds and promotion in Belfast and Hungary.
“It is a massive honour to lead this fantastic group of guys and it has been fantastic to do the job as captain,” said Phillips, who added the assist on GB’s winning overtime goal.
“We have a group of leaders in the room. Everyone gives their all for each other and does what it takes.
“I am proud to have been in charge of this team for 50 games.”
GB had three big chances during the opening period with the best of those for Cardiff-born Ben Davies, who skated clear and dropped the puck for a team-mate.
Davies clearly thought a team-mate was behind him, but a Frenchman nipped in to clear the danger.
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) May 20, 2019
Britain hit a post and France were wobbling, but the score was goalless after 20 minutes.
There were, though, five goals scored in the second.
The French took control by powering into a 3-0 lead. Anthony Rech put them ahead after 23-36, while two goals in six seconds left GB down and apparently out.
Sacha Treille (27-31) and Rech (27-37) gave France a stranglehold grip on the game.
But GB, a gutsy, spirited, fiercely competitive group, can never be written off easily.
Ben O’Sullivan, who has had a poor tournament by his own high standards, suddenly stepped up and made a massive contribution.
The Sheffield Steelers D-man created two big chances, scored by Robert Dowd and Mike Hammond.
— IIHF (@IIHFHockey) May 20, 2019
Britain’s first was netted by Dowd (34-59) with Hammond adding his fourth of this tournament (38-04).
O’Connor, who had 24 shifts in the first two period for GB, almost tied the scores up when he dumped the puck in and goaltender Florian Hardy almost made a hash of taking possession.
The puck slid under Hardy, who had to grab it before O’Connor’s effort crossed the line.
The Dowd/Farmer/Hammond line led the charge for GB and it was Farmer who fired their third goal after 45-16.
At 3-3 with almost 15 minutes left in regulation time this crucial match was in the balance.
By this time GB were pressing hard and an O’Connor shot took a deflection only for French goalie Hardy made a superb stop.
France were awarded a penalty with just over four minutes left in the third with Robert Lachowicz penalised for tripping.
GB’s penalty kill was up to the task and the crucial clash went into 3v3 overtime.
Scorers, France: Anthony Rech 2+0, Florin Chakiachvili 1+0, Valentin Claireux 0+1, Alexandre Texier 0+1, Sacha Treille 0+1, Antonin Manavian 0+1, Tim Bozon 0+1.
GB: Robert Dowd 1+0, Mike Hammond 1+0, Robert Farmer 1+0, Ben O’Connor 0+2, David Phillips 0+1, Jonathan Phillips 0+1.
Period scores (GB first): 0-0; 2-3 (2-3); 1+0 (3-3); 1-0 (4-3)
Penalties in minutes: GB 0+2+2=4; France 2+0+2=4
Shots on goal: GB (on Florian Hardy) 10+11+10=31, France (on Ben Bowns) 10+9+9=28.
Men of the match: GB, Ben O’Connor; France, Anthony Rech.
Referees: Mikko Kaukokari and Peter Stano.