Great Britain Under 20 began their IIHF World Championship Division 2A campaign with a 4-2 win over Netherlands in Tallinn today.
In a nervy, disjointed first period each side had three powerplay chances, with the Netherlands striking the post of Adam Goss’ goal but the break was reached with the score 0-0.
Declan Balmer was still sitting a penalty carried over from the first session when Ivan Antonov broke through the Dutch defence and fired the opening goal of the tournament, shorthanded at 20.27. Alex Forbes and Craig Moore picked up assists.
The goal settled GB and they played with more purpose, going close to doubling their lead but unable to find a way past Jefrey Vermeulen in the Netherlands goal.
In the third period another GB odd man rush saw Floyd Taylor’s shot strike the post, and in the scramble for the loose puck, Ollie Betteridge netted into the roof of the net at 43.43 for a 2-0 lead. Michael Stratford was credited with the lone assist on the goal.
Two goals in as many minutes just before the mid point of the final period saw Netherlands draw level at 2-2. Giovanni Vogelaar with the opener on 47.14, scoring from the face off circle. Then Guus van Nes was first to react to a rebound and he netted the game tying goal at 49.15.
A wondrous solo finish from Jordan Cownie restored Britain’s lead at 52.21. The Milton Keynes forward stick handed through the Dutch defence and deked the goalie before slotting into the net.
Cownie had a big hand in the insurance marker at 54.01 as his shot was tipped by Bobby Chamberlain in front of the net and Vermeulen only half stopped it and the puck trickled over the line for 4-2.
The regulation time win gives GB three points in the tournament standings and a platform to build on in the remaining games.
Monday’s games sees them play Lithuania, again at 1300 local time which is 1100 in the UK.
Speaking after the game, head coach Peter Russell said: “The first game of a tournament is always important to get off to a winning start to try and build momentum and we’ve done that.
“We did a lot of good things and there are things that we definitely need to be better at.
“We came out flat in the first period, our forecheck was non existent. We spoke in the interval and the reaction in the second period was really good.
“Then at 2-0 we seemed to revert back to how we’d started and Netherlands came back. The players showed a lot of character to go on and win the game from there.”
Lithuania, Monday’s opponents, are the second seed and Russell was under no illusion of the task ahead.
“Lithuania will be a really good team, we know that. They will be quick and skilled, I’ll watch them later against Romania and we will plan from there.”