Great Britain’s Under 18s rebounded from Monday’s defeat to Lithuania with a resounding 7-1 win against Croatia today.
Jordan Lawday got the start in net and the coaching staff rearranged the lines to spread the scoring threat and try to capitalise on the chances created.
GB couldn’t convert on an early powerplay before Richard Krogh and Hrvoje Kriksic were penalised at 12.30 giving a spell of four on four.
Using the extra space, Liam Kirk skated into the Croatia zone and deked the defence before lifting puck into the top right corner for the opening goal at 12.42.
Croatia were handed a five on three powerplay shortly after the goal, with Kyle Smith (tripping) and a bench minor for too many men penalised for Great Britain. The special teams killed the first minor but Smith was still rejoining the play when Patrik Stancic blasted home the equaliser at 15.29.
Unlike yesterday, GB weren’t deterred by the opponents goal, instead netting a pair just 12 seconds apart to take a stranglehold on the match. First Adam Finlinson held off a Croatia defenceman to carry the puck into the slot, round the goalie and back hand into the net. As the goal was being announced, another quick break by GB saw Bradley Betteridge’s cross ice pass redirect deftly into the net by Matthew Headland. The goals at 17.59 and 18.11 respectively put GB 3-1 up at the first break.
GB killed off a carried-over penalty but had to absorb a lot of pressure early in the period – Jordan Kelsall making an important interception and namesake Lawday pulling off two point blank saves to keep the Croatians to just one goal.
Just after the half hour, the momentum turned again and after a well worked powerplay saw a lot of possession but no clear scoring chances, GB extended their lead. The puck came to Mac Howlett in the left circle and he let fly a wrist shot which went top shelf past Adamovic for 4-1. Britain weren’t done and in the final minute of the period, Liam Kirk bagged his second with a smart backhand finish from down low – the puck going across Adamovic and into the far corner.
The early exchanges of the third frame were fairly even, GB killing off a Finlinson hooking penalty on 46 minutes, then going on the offensive once more.
Chad Smith was robbed by a sprawling glove save from Adamovic but a couple of minutes later GB added their sixth. Operating on the powerplay, Kyle Smith battled to keep the puck in the zone on the blueline before excellent one touch passing found Headland and his cross crease one-time pass was tapped into the net by Ben Edmonds. Still GB pressed and five minutes from time, Finlinson’s initial shot was saved but defenceman Edward Knaggs was following up and he slammed the puck into the net on the rebound to round off the scoring at 7-1.
Liam Kirk was named player of the game for GB. The full game statistics are on the IIHF website http://stats.iihf.com/Hydra/549/IHM549904_74_3_0.pdf.
Wednesday is a rest day in the tournament, with GB training in the morning before back to game action on Thursday against Netherlands.
Photo: Benedikt Kubatzki